Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

SJR 60: Virginia's Future Transportation Needs

September 8, 2006

The joint subcommittee, co-chaired by Senator Martin E. Williams and Delegate Leo C. Wardrup, Jr., held its first meeting on September 8, 2006, at George Mason University. Other members of the joint subcommittee are Senators Charles R. Hawkins, Janet D. Howell, and J. Brandon Bell II and Delegates Joe T. May, John J. Welch III, William H. Fralin, Jr., Johnny S. Joannou, and David W. Marsden.

Chairman Williams opened the meeting by stating that one of the major goals of the joint subcommittee is to determine what the 21st century Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) should look like structurally and emphasized that members were not charged to analyze the current funding of VDOT. Chairman Wardrup concurred and added that members will look to the future and that discussions will include rail as a vital mode of transportation, which should play a significant role in the future of Virginia's transportation infrastructure.

SJR 60

The joint subcommittee was formed in response to SJR 60 (2006) to study the role of the Commonwealth and its agencies in meeting Virginia's future transportation needs. The members will study:

• A redefined role of the Commonwealth, regional entities, and local governments in the devolution of a unified state road system.
• Revised and restructured functions of state agencies to concentrate on planning and contract management instead of direct facility construction, operation, and service delivery.
• Changes in the number of employees and the appropriations required for state administration.

Guest Speakers

David Snyder - Chairman, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
Mr. Snyder emphasized the importance of Northern Virginia to the state due to the great number of jobs and tax dollars generated in the region. He noted that each job within Northern Virginia results in roughly 50% more state tax One of the major goals of the joint subcommittee is to determine what the 21st century Virginia VDOT should look like structurally; the study does not call for an analysis of current VDOT funding. dollars than the average job elsewhere in the Commonwealth. He described briefly Northern Virginia's new long-range transportation plan, TransAction 2030, which calls for nearly $700 million in additional transportation funding annually for Northern Virginia over the next 25 years. He urged the members to give localities more decision-making and implementation powers and emphasized that the transportation problems are critical and require a statewide solution. The major concern is that if transportation is not addressed, it may result in private sector businesses moving out of Northern Virginia. The joint subcommittee discussed the many transportation options that have been considered in alleviating Northern Virginia and statewide transportation woes, including:

• Tolls.
• Devolution of VDOT.
• Revenue-sharing programs.
• More authority to localities to solve transporta-tion problems.
• Growth management tools.
• Land-use planning.
• Tax referendum for transportation.

Mr. Snyder stated that several options may be viable if the state would come forward with a significant statewide contribution and a sustainable funding source for transportation. He suggested that funding should be based on needs such as transit ridership, traffic delays, and other specific problems, and a restructuring of funding allocations may be in order. Mr. Snyder explained that Northern Virginia is taking steps to address growth management, but added his view that it would take up to 10 years to realize the benefits of efforts to alleviate congestion with land-use planning as the only tool.

Larry Roberts - Office of the Governor
Mr. Roberts stated that the Governor looks forward to feedback from the joint subcommittee. The Governor's Office supports a comprehensive solution to transportation problems and would like to maintain momentum in an environment receptive to reform. Mr. Roberts stated that the Governor supports efforts to broaden the focus of transportation solutions, which includes land-use planning.

John A. DePasquale, P.E. - Engineer, VDOT
Mr. DePasquale gave a presentation on the process of building a highway from the initial stages of study to construction. Members were briefed on design, the environmental requirements that must be met both at the state and the federal levels, the acquisition of right-of-way, and the construction process. Mr. DePasquale informed the committee that VDOT is becoming more of a manager with localities electing to take on their own construction projects. He emphasized that even when the locality performs the work, VDOT remains accountable and is responsible for meeting all state and federal requirements. He noted that the majority of transportation projects are federally funded.

Ms. Barbara Reese - Chief Financial Officer at the Virginia Department of Transportation
Ms. Reese briefed the members on details of the VDOT organizational chart and added that efforts were currently underway to outsource some agency responsibilities. VDOT currently employees 9,800 people, two-thirds of which are in the state’s nine construction districts. Ms. Reese's presentation included an overview of VDOT highway spending and funding and a summary of VDOT resources and obligations. A breakdown of the VDOT budget was discussed.

A total budget of $2.9 billion in FY 2006 includes:

• Approximately $1.368 billion for maintenance.
• $713 million for construction.
• Balance for administration and operation, debt programs, and toll roads. VDOT revenue sources include: • State motor fuels tax.
• Motor vehicle sales and use tax.
• Motor vehicles license fee.
• State general sales and use tax.

Ms. Reese explained that it is VDOT’s position that if no additional funding sources for transportation are identified and implemented, sufficient money will not be available to match federally funded construction projects by 2013. She reminded the members that moneys in the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund cannot be used to service debt and that some construction money is already being diverted to maintenance.

Work Plan

The next meeting of the joint subcommittee will be held on October 13, 2006, at the Old Dominion University campus. For additional information on meeting discussion, as well as handouts, please see the study website sponsored by DLS.

The Hon. Martin E. Williams

The Hon. Leo C. Wardrup, Jr.

For information, contact:
Allen Wambold and Stephanie, DLS Staff

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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