Virginia lawmaker pitches transportation funding

| Friday, October 08, 2004

A Virginia state senator wants to drum up support for his plan to revive transportation funding in the state.

Sen. John Chichester, R-Fredericksburg, who led this year’s campaign to increase spending on Virginia’s traffic problems, is calling on politicians and the public to rally behind new efforts to fund roadwork.

Chichester, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, spoke in Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 30 about the need for greater investment, increased coordination with developers on land-use decisions and more creativity in finding solutions.

During the 2004 General Assembly session, Chichester proposed raising an assortment of fees to increase transportation funding by $800 million a year, but the plan was dropped.

The Republican told The Washington Post he would favor raising a range of “user fees” during the legislative session that begins in January to generate revenue for road and rail projects. But he declined to say whether he would push a plan as ambitious as his previous one.

He also called for developers to bear more of the burden for road costs and perhaps maintain roads in new subdivisions for five years or more after they are built. Those roads now are turned over to the Virginia Transportation Department after one year and contribute to the agency’s rising maintenance costs, he said.

Chichester is one of several officials pursuing ways to solve the state’s transportation problems. House Speaker William Howell, R-Fredericksburg, has appointed a committee of Republican delegates to come up with ideas. Gov. Mark Warner has said he is developing a plan, and others want to raise fuel taxes to fund projects.

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