Virginia Department of Transportation
’s top financial official is projecting a 44% average reduction in the amount of money available for road construction projects in the next six years. That applies to funding for projects for primary, urban and secondary roads.
The news was presented to the CTB this week by Reta Busher
, the Chief Financial Officer for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Transportation revenue “continues to slow” according to Busher’s report. The six-year revenue outlook shows a $1.1 billion reduction in what had been expected. The number had expected to be $20.4 billion, but the figure has been reduced to $19.3 billion. VDOT’s revised six-year forecast reflects the pending repeal of the abusive driver fees, as well as reductions in both sales and use taxes. Recordation, vehicular license fees, and other taxes are also expected to be down as a result of a slower economy.
Roads will not be the only transportation modality to be affected by the cuts. Funding specifically designated for transit projects is expected to decline by 10 percent, and funding for rail will be flat.
Under Virginia state law, the formula that allocates the state revenues for transportation projects places new road construction last. Road maintenance, matches to federally-funded projects, and debt service come first. Busher told the CTB that because of the increasing cost of maintenance, there will not be enough money for construction projects as soon as FY 2016.
The Richmond Times Dispatch has reported
that VDOT Commissioner David Ekern has directed staff to complete projects underway before embarking on new ones.
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on March 12 to discuss how to spend its share of the secondary road funding. For several years, the County has directed that money to three projects: its portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway, improvements on Georgetown Road, and an improvements along Jarman’s Gap Road in Crozet. All three projects have faced significant delays in part because of the time it takes to collect enough funding while staying ahead of project inflation costs.
An increasingly frustrated Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is now discussing taking over from VDOT construction of Georgetown Road and Jarman’s Gap Road. Under VDOT’s “local administration” program, VDOT would handle the right of way issues while the County expedites construction with its own engineers and contractors.
Sean Tubbs and Brian Wheeler