McDonnell adds to roads plans

A key part of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to get Virginia transportation moving would rededicate a portion of sales-tax revenues from the pot of money used to fund schools and public safety to roads projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

McDonnell said today that he will back legislation to move about $140 million a year in sales-tax revenues generated in the two congested regions to go to roads projects in those areas. The governor also continued his push for the privatization of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control system that he says will infuse $300 million into the new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. Earlier the Republican had introduced plans criticized on both sides of the aisle as “borrow and spend” to add close to $3 billion in bonds to the transportation funding mix.

“The time to build new roads and bridges is now. Interest rates and construction costs are at an all time low; we’re taking advantage of this and taxpayers from all regions of the Commonwealth will benefit,” McDonnell said today. “Our proposals will dramatically speed up the construction of new roads and bridges, ease congestion, and increase job-creation and economic-development efforts statewide. Nearly 900 projects will benefit from our proposals, and Virginians will get to work and back home again as a result.”

Details on the McDonnell transportation agenda announced today:

  • Retain 0.25 percent of discretionary sales tax generated within Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to transportation improvements in those regions.
  • Pass a constitutional amendment to permanently protect the Commonwealth Transportation Fund from transfers to the General Fund.
  • Enable allocations from the Rail Enhancement Fund to be used as matching funds for federal grants to support rail projects.
  • Transferring the administration of the motor vehicle rental tax from DMV to the Department of Taxation.
  • Providing for the issuance of special license plates for businesses.
  • Privatize the retail operations of the Alcohol Beverage Control and generate an initial $300 million to go into the Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
  • Provide a tax credit to employers for expenses incurred in allowing employees to telework pursuant to a signed telework agreement. An employer would be eligible for a credit of up to $1,200 per teleworking employee, depending on the number of days per month an employee will telework. The total credit amount any one employer may take for 2012 and 2013 is $50,000. The aggregate amount of tax credits that will be issued is capped at $1 million annually for taxable year 2012 and 2013.
  • Consolidate the duties of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission into one organization. Gov. McDonnell will provide additional funding to the newly consolidated Northern Virginia Transportation Authority through his funding proposals.
  • Amend the powers and duties of the CTB by clarifying that local roads in counties outside the state secondary highway system are local roads, and not part of the state system, increasing the limitation on contract values that the Commissioner and the Director of DRPT may let, eliminating the duty of the CTB to regulate outdoor theatres, providing for the updating of the Statewide Transportation Plan every four years instead of 5, and repealing the section that allows the CTB to designate its employees as special police officers.
  • Reduce bureaucratic procurement regulations to reduce costs and create new efficiencies by eliminating the requirement to advertise Requests for Proposals in the newspaper and increasing initial contract terms for environmental, location and design, and inspection work.
  • Amending the powers of the VDOT Commissioner to give him more flexibility in structuring agency personnel, reduce project delivery times, and streamline reporting requirements. The proposals include eliminating the requirement for a Deputy Commissioner for the environment, transportation and regulatory affairs, allowing the Commissioner to transfer, abandon or discontinue roads and sell surplus right-of-way associated with a construction project without Commonwealth Transportation Board approval, and allowing VDOT to submit one comprehensive annual report.
  • Grant a $50 per container income tax credit for any company which ships cargo containers via barge or rail. This proposal will reduce emissions and congestion along the Interstate 64 Corridor in Hampton Roads.

Previously announced McDonnell roads proposals:

  • Direct $150 million to transportation from budget surplus. These one-time funds will go to the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
  • Create Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to multiply transportation dollars.
  • Capitalize the bank with $150 million from surplus and $250 million from audit-identified funds; Goal is to provide an initial $400 million and $1 billion total during administration.
  • Modify Virginia Code to authorize Direct GARVEE bonds. This would allow the Commonwealth to issue up to $1.1 billion in Direct GARVEE bonds and utilize toll credits for state match.
  • Accelerate the sales of bonds from 2007 transportation legislation to a maximum of $600 million per year, providing ability to issue up to $1.8 billion in bonds during remainder of the administration.
  • Increase the availability of revenue sharing, specifically eliminating the $1 million cap per project and $50 million program maximum.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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