Senate Transportation Negotiators Lay Out Responsible Solutions To Virginia's Transportation Needs
(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Senate transportation negotiators responded today to a letter sent by the House transportation negotiators insisting on reviving House Bill 3202 from 2007.
In a letter to the Senate Democratic negotiators, the Republican House negotiators made it clear they would not make any significant changes to HB 3202 – only in the way that it is implemented.
House Bill 3202 has proven to be a failure – having parts ruled unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court and including the reviled abuser fees while not raising the necessary money for transportation.
The House negotiators seem intent on trying to revive this proven failure of a plan.
Senate negotiators sent a letter, which was co-signed by Senators Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Yvonne Miller (D-Norfolk) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-Henry), emphasizing the urgent need to provide funding for transportation.
The letter highlights the need to fully fund the highway maintenance fund, which is badly depleted and draining money from the highway construction fund.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, this year $388 million of highway construction funds will be diverted to the highway maintenance program. By 2012, this transfer will exceed $470 million.
“To put this in perspective, the current statewide secondary construction program is about $201 million while the statewide urban construction program is about $211 million.
“A transfer of nearly $400 million out of construction means that Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are losing over $200 million in highway construction funds this year alone. Other regions of the Commonwealth are losing an additional $200 million in construction funds.
“By 2015, the transfer out of construction will exceed $600 million,” the letter read.
The Senate negotiators state that in Fiscal Year 2016 Virginia would not be able to receive federal matching construction dollars because there would be no money left in the highway construction fund.
This would mean there would be no money left in the highway construction fund.
In Northern Virginia, this would mean the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority would receive about $400 million, but would be losing $700 million for construction for a net loss of about $300 million.
The Hampton Roads region would receive $250 million, but would be losing up to $550 million for a net loss of about $300 million dollars.
The House of Delegates proposed trying to revive and fix certain parts of House Bill 3202, which were ruled unconstitutional last week. They did not provide any suggestions for securing the highway maintenance fund.
“They want to revive these regional plans that push these taxes and fees off to localities and provide no real plan for solving our transportation problems. It’s all smoke and mirrors,” Senator Saslaw said.
The Virginia Senate has consistently fought for a statewide plan to secure the maintenance fund and a regional fund for new projects.
“We need a statewide plan which addresses our maintenance needs and frees up money for special projects. Then we can develop regional plans,” Senator Roscoe Reynolds said.
“That is the only way Virginians from Martinsville and rural Virginia to Hampton Roads to Northern Virginia will have a real transportation solution.”
Senator Yvonne Miller, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the Senate plan will help all Virginians.
“I believe our plan has something in it for everyone. If we don’t fix the statewide problem the regional plans won’t mean much because we won’t have enough money,” she said.