Petersen calls for CTB reform as key to roads fix

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) called on his fellow senators and delegates to reform the Commonwealth Transportation Board membership allocation in the 2013 session.

“My bill will reform the CTB board . . . in order to give greater proportional representation to Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia,” Petersen said in a blog post this week.

Petersen called the current CTB board membership allocation “based on a 1930’s vision of the Commonwealth” and urged lawmakers to set aside their differences, and not “pretend this construction [funding] deficit was a regional problem” when it was not.

Although Petersen agrees with Sen. John Watkins (R-Powhatan) that the transportation trust fund needs more revenue, he sees a fundamental issue in reforming Virginia’s transportation hierarchy, starting with reallocation of CTB board seats.

Currently the Commonwealth Transportation Board has seventeen members. Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia districts are represented by one member each, despite having the majority of the population of the Commonwealth. Other districts with one member include Bristol, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Salem, and Staunton. The CTB board also has five at-large members, three representing urban areas, and two representing rural.

Petersen would add additional seats on the CTB to Richmond, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, while increasing revenues for transportation by implementing a one time raise of 10 cents to the statewide gas tax. Under Petersen’s plan the new total gas tax would be 27.5 cents per gallon.

A ten-cent raise to the gas tax would provide additional revenue of $500 million to the transportation trust fund. This money could be used to equalize the annual “cross-over effect” which shifts money from new construction to maintenance of the existing inventory of roads.

Petersen’s statement can be found at www.oxroadsouth.com.

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