Virginia lawmakers approve governor’s road plan

| 3/3/2011

After years of failing to reach agreement on a transportation funding plan, Virginia lawmakers have signed off on a $4 billion plan that is being touted as a boon for jobs.

On the final day of the legislative session, House and Senate lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Gov. Bob McDonnell?s initiative. The plan includes borrowing about $3 billion during the next three years. Another $1 billion in available cash would be used to pay for up to 900 projects.

The governor?s initiative represents the largest one-time state infusion of money into transportation since the Virginia fuel tax was increased in 1986.

?I am pleased that, with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats, we passed legislation that will provide the largest commitment to transportation in over a generation,? McDonnell said in a statement.

Nearly $1.8 billion of the proposed debt relies solely on state revenue. About $1.1 billion would be repaid using a portion of federal highway funds the state gets each year.

At least $282 million will be allotted to the newly created Virginia Infrastructure Bank to provide grants to local governments and loans to private entities involved in transportation projects.

Among the 900 projects that will get funding are 16 ?mega-transportation projects.?

A report prepared by the Virginia Department of Transportation indicates the governor?s plan would pump about $13 billion into the state?s economy and create more than 100,000 jobs during the next six years.

?Our transportation plan is aimed at putting Virginians back to work improving our transportation network,? McDonnell stated.

The bill package ? HB2527/SB1446 ? represents the biggest chunk of McDonnell?s overall transportation proposals.

Another component of the governor?s agenda approved by lawmakers is intended to reduce the number of trucks traveling the Interstate 64 corridor in Hampton Roads. SB1282/HB2385 grants a $50 per container income tax credit for companies that ship cargo containers via barge or rail.

One more component approved by lawmakers would allow inmates to maintain rest stops. SB1109/HB2040 would allow inmates to work outside rest stops mowing grass, landscaping and doing repairs.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia, click here.

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