Virginia transportation panel approves $13.1 billion improvement plan

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, June 20, 2014

The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board this week approved a six-year, $13.1 billion transportation improvement plan. The statewide program is revised annually to update revenue projections and other priorities.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the plan on Wednesday. It allocates money to highways, roads, bridges, rail and transit for work starting July 1. The announcement follows hearings in nine regions across the state to get public input.

“From that information, the CTB adjusted the program to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else,” McAuliffe said in prepared remarks.

The program includes $9.9 billion for highway construction projects. Another $3.2 billion is earmarked for rail and public transportation.

Projects pegged for work include widening eight miles of Interstate 64 on the Virginia Peninsula, widening state Route 7 over the Dulles Toll Road, developing I-66 improvements, extending the use of shoulders on I-495 and tie-in to the express lanes, and truck-climbing lanes along southbound I-81 in Salem and northbound I-81 in Staunton.

The six-year program will be updated in the months ahead to comply with the new prioritization process included in HB2, which the governor signed into law earlier this year. The process requires projects to be picked objectively based on regional needs.

“There will be no special governor’s list of projects, but rather a strategic transportation program based on selecting the right projects that provide the maximum benefit for limited tax dollars,” stated Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

The CTB will work with localities to set weights for key factors like congestion relief, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. Specific projects will then be screened and chosen for funding starting in July 2016.

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