To make the benefits of his transportation tax package more politically palatable, Governor Bob McDonnell has announced a list of 15 major road and rail projects that would receive funding — from the Rail-to-Dulles Metrorail project to a bridge replacement for Interstate 81 over the New River.
The funding proposal, which would scrap the gasoline tax and increase the sales tax, among other changes, will raise $1.28 billion (presumably over five years) for 158 highway projects and $1.07 billion for rail and transit projects, states a press release from the governor’s office. Additionally, the plan will prevent the delay of another $500 million in projects in the existing Six Year Improvement Program due to a softening of revenue projections.
Stated McDonnell: “Every corner of the Commonwealth will reap the benefits of safer roads, quicker commutes and increased access to public transportation if this plan is adopted. A world-class transportation system is vital to both economic opportunity and to the quality of life of every Virginian.”
The projects include:
- Dulles Metrorail Extension Project
- Extension of passenger rail to Roanoke
- Increased train service to and from Norfolk
- I-66/Route 28 interchange in Fairfax County
- I-95 interchange relocation in Stafford County
- I-95/I-64 overlap improvements in Richmond
- I-64 capacity improvements between Newport News and Williamsburg
- Route 606, Dulles Loop in Loudoun County
- Route 29/666 Interchange in Culpeper County
- Route 340 bridge replacement in Warren County
- I-81 bridge replacement over the New River in Montgomery County
- I-81/I-77 overlap capacity improvements
- Numerous bridge replacements statewide
- Major interstate reconstructive paving projects statewide
- Track improvements Newport News to Richmond/Richmond to Washington, D.C.
- Unpaved road projects, statewide
Bacon’s bottom line. It is difficult to evaluate this list because (1) there are no dollar figures attached in the press release to the projects, (2) the administration has not yet implemented a Return on Investment methodology that would allow citizens to see how the projects compare, and (3) the press release does not tell us which projects have been reviewed and approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board for inclusion in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six Year Improvement Program and which ones are new funding initiatives that leap-frog past previously established priorities.
But from a political perspective, none of that matters. As long as there are goodies for every region, wavering legislators will be more tempted to vote for the package.
Update: Here is a detailed list of projects with dollar values included. (Hat tip: Larry Gross.) Uh, oh, I see that $64 million is allocated to unspecified “smart roadway technology” projects. Oh, be still, my beating heart! I confess, I’m a huge fan of smart roads. But I’d still like to see how the ROI for these projects stacks up compared to the roads and rail.