Virginia lawmakers overhaul road funding formula, P3 process

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Virginia General Assembly has approved a two-bill package to reform rules that cover the state’s transportation funding formula and public-private partnerships, or P3s.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne recently said the changes sought by Gov. Terry McAuliffe will “improve reliability in how funds are distributed” and “restore integrity” to the state’s P3 process.

The state funding formula now allows $500 million in transportation revenue to be used for high-priority state projects. Forty percent of the amount left is used for primary roads, 30 percent is applied to secondary roads, and 30 percent goes to urban systems.

The first bill overhauls how the state allocates transportation revenue. Starting in 2021, HB1887 routes 40 percent of funding for bridge and pavement fixes; 30 percent will be spent on projects deemed to be of statewide importance; and 30 percent will be used for local projects.

The governor said the change will increase transparency and send more money back to localities.

“The bill greatly simplifies the myriad of rules governing the distribution of transportation funding, which will make funding more reliable and consistent,” McAuliffe said in recent remarks.

Another rule change is intended to reduce the public’s financial risk when private investors are brought in to do road and bridge work.

HB1886 addresses concern about projects such as the planned high-speed toll expressway along U.S. 460 in southeastern Virginia. The proposed 55-mile project cost the state $300 million, but the road hasn’t received federal clearance and isn’t under construction.

The Virginia Department of Transportation would be required to analyze a proposed P3 from a public interest standpoint before signing off on it. State lawmakers would also be on a steering committee that determines whether a project should move forward as a P3 project.

McAuliffe said the changes will reform the process and minimize the risk to taxpayers while setting clear lines of accountability.

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

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