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McDonnell outlines roads plan

Speaking to more than 700 hundred industry and transportation agency professionals during the 2011 Governor’s Transportation Conference in Norfolk, Gov. Bob McDonnell today outlined his transportation policy and funding plans for the upcoming 2012 General Assembly Session.

The governor called for changes in laws governing the allocation of future surpluses to transportation, dedicating portions of revenue growth attributable to transportation infrastructure projects to transportation, increasing the portion of sales tax dedicated to transportation, the establishment of an Interstate 85 Connector Economic Development and Promotion Zone to encourage businesses to invest in Virginia and ship through Virginia ports, and the advancement of Virginia’s commercial space flight programs.

The governor’s new proposals follow the successful passage of his 2011 transportation agenda, which put the most new funding into roads and rail in the state in 25 years.

“Transportation and economic development and prosperity are inextricably linked,” said McDonnell. “Whether it’s the infrastructure needed to move people and goods, or certain transportation-related industries poised for major growth and job creation, we must continue to make progress in improving our transportation networks if Virginia is to remain economically competitive.”

Virginia has made significant advances in transportation under the McDonnell administration. These include, among others:

· A historic investment in transportation of $4 billion over the next three years, done without raising taxes. This is the biggest infusion of new funding for transportation in Virginia in 25 years.

· Reopening 19 closed rest areas and developing innovative new partnerships with the private sector to offset rest area maintenance and operating costs

· Completing four audits of transportation agencies resulting in the identification of more than $1.4 billion in unspent transportation funds and a more streamlined project development process to expedite construction and maintenance work

· Creating the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships

· Developing  a new multimodal strategic plan that focuses on supporting economic opportunity, improving planning and implementation processes, and a renewed emphasis on customer satisfaction

· Working with the Federal Highway Administration to move forward with tolling Interstate 95

· Recent signings of major public-private transportation agreements including;

· The Downtown-Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension Project

· The I-95 HOT Lanes Project

· The Pound Connector and Doe Branch sections of Coalfields Expressway

· The next eight-mile phase of Route 58 improvements along the 36-mile corridor between Hillsville and Stuart

· Advancing the I-85 Connector, a new interstate-style Route 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk

An independent economic analysis by Chmura Economics showed that once fully implemented, last year’s transportation package would grow the Virginia economy by over $13 billion and sustain an additional 104,000 jobs. This year’s package will build upon that impact.

2012 Transportation Plan Highlights

The governor’s proposed transportation plan for 2012 includes the following revenue-enhancements and policies to promote transportation investment:

· Increasing transportation’s share of year-end surpluses to 75 percent. This measure will provide transportation with additional revenues without jeopardizing other key areas of need. Over the past 2 years, $100 million in surplus has been sent to transportation.

· Authorizing the Commonwealth Transportation Board to implement a version of tax-increment financing. When the state funds a major new piece of transportation infrastructure, transportation should receive a portion of the growth in state tax revenues that result from economic development surrounding the project. These revenues will be reinvested in additional projects that can help spur additional development.

· Increasing the dedicated transportation allocation of the sales tax from .5 percent to .75 percent over the next 8 years. During the upcoming budget, increasing the dedicated sales tax percentage to .55 percent generating over $110 million in new transportation funding going to maintenance

· Proposing that the first 1 percent in revenue growth over 5 percent each year be dedicated to transportation

· Expanding VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program to include maintenance. Currently, the state will match local money dollar-for-dollar on capital improvements within a locality.  Enabling maintenance projects to be eligible for this program will help make our maintenance dollars go farther.

· Legislation to restructure and fund the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and turn it into a true independent agency to develop the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport into the number one commercial space flight facility in the nation

· Legislation to promote the Port of Virginia by eliminating some of the bureaucratic processes with which the Virginia Port Authority must comply and creating the I-85 Connector Economic Development and Promotion Zone, wherein companies shipping goods through the port or engaged in maritime commerce can operate income tax free for their first two years in operation

The governor will announce additional proposals and more detail of this year’s transportation package over the next month leading up to 2012 General Assembly session.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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