Virginia lawmakers adjourned their recently completed
special session on transportation without accomplishing much of anything.
Among the efforts that failed to gain passage during the legislators’
two days of work was legislation that included using tolls, taxes and other
fees to pay for road and bridge work.
Problems stem from Republican leaders in the House and Senate who
haven’t been able to reach agreement on funding. Senate leaders say new revenue,
including a fuel tax increase, are needed to address congestion and maintenance
costs, while House leaders are vehemently opposed to higher taxes and fees.
The final straw came when a Senate panel rejected the bulk of a $2.4
billion House transportation plan that relied heavily on debt and existing
revenues that otherwise would be earmarked for schools, health care and other
services, The Associated Press reported.
Among the failed efforts is a bill that sought to increase taxes to
shore up the state’s transportation program.
The House Finance Committee rejected a Senate-sponsored plan to
increase the state’s per-gallon tax on motor fuels by about 8 cents to 25 cents
per gallon. The bill – SB5013 – also called for increasing motor vehicle
registration fees by $10 for all vehicles and doubling the gross weight
registration fee for vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
The panel also rejected an effort that was billed as a compromise
between the House and Senate. Sponsored by Delegate David Albo, R-Springfield,
the bill – HB5056 – would have allowed localities in Northern Virginia and
Hampton Roads to tap tolls and higher fees and taxes for transportation
A Senate-approved bill that used a similar approach to fund Northern Virginia projects was also defeated in the finance panel.
Tax and fee bills weren’t the only efforts to meet their demise in the
capitol; toll-only efforts also were turned back.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach,
offered a bill that would have created a regional transportation authority with
the power to levy tolls to pay for roadwork and upgrades on all major bridges
and tunnels in Hampton Roads.
The bill – HB5091 – allowed for tolls on existing roads, bridges and
tunnels. Rates could vary between water-crossings and fluctuate by time of day.
Wardrup’s bill remained in the House Appropriations Committee at the
deadline to advance from the chamber to the Senate.
Lawmakers were clearly frustrated that the session, which cost
taxpayers about $30,000 a day, proved fruitless.
“It was a waste of time,” Albo told the Hampton Roads Daily Press. “No one was willing to
The sentiment was shared by fellow Republican Delegate Vince Callahan
“I think this whole session was an exercise in futility. The results
were predictable,” Callahan told the Daily
Efforts to come up with funding for transportation projects and other
issues will have to wait until the 45-day regular session that begins in