The new legislative session opened a week ago in Virginia
with transportation funding dominating discussion.
As the Republican-led House and Senate work to find common
ground for how to pay for work on roads, rail and mass transit, several funding
efforts have been offered to provide some relief.
Among the efforts that could draw consideration during the
45-day session is a bill from Delegate Robert Marshall, R-Prince William, that
would require the Commonwealth Transportation Board to impose a fee on trucks
and combination vehicles for use in maintaining state highways.
The bill would allow the board to calculate, impose, and
collect a fee for damage done to highways by certain vehicles.
The amount of the fee would be based on the difference
between the amount received annually by the commonwealth from the federal
government for highway maintenance and the annual cost to the commonwealth of
repairing damage done to the highways of the commonwealth by vehicles subject
to the fee.
The fee and method of payment would be determined by the
board. Fees would be imposed on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.
One other bill would use bonds to pay for added travel lanes
along Interstate 95 from Dumfries to Massaponax.
Sponsored by Delegate Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, the bill
would issue $550 million in bonds to add a regular travel lane on both the
northbound and southbound lanes. The extra lane would pick up from where the
high-occupancy vehicle lanes end.
A bill offered by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II, R-Fairfax, would
allow the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to impose and collect
tolls on new roads and added lanes. The bill also would allow the issuance of
bonds supported by revenues generated by tolls.
In addition, every agency having control of toll facilities
in northern Virginia would be required to be capable of fully automatic
Another bill would create 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.
Sponsored by Delegate Terrie Suit, R-Virginia Beach, the
bill would transfer the authority of seven bridges from the Virginia Department
of Transportation to a regional group.
The group would control the James River Bridge, the
Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the
two downtown tunnels in Hampton Roads, the Interstate 64 bridge in Chesapeake
and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
The authority's creation would be subject to an affirmative
vote of six or more local governments.
Suit wrote in the bill that local governments that do not
vote to participate by Jan. 1, 2008, "will be deemed to have voted in favor to
participate." The bill doesn't set toll rates for any bridges.
Suit's bill - HB1999 - is awaiting assignment to a
committee. Cole's bill - HB1725 - is in the House Appropriations Committee.
Cuccinelli's bill - SB782 - is in the Senate Finance Committee. Marshall's bill
- HB1716 - is in the House Transportation Committee.
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor