Commonwealth Transportation Board reduces six-year transportation program

News Virginia Department of Transportation June 19, 2006
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Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) recently approved its Six-Year Improvement Program for FY 2007 through 2012. The program, which is based on the latest official revenue forecast, allocates $6.9 billion over six years to highway construction and other projects managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), compared to the $7 billion program adopted last year. The program also allocates $2.3 billion to rail, public transportation and commuter service programs managed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

As required by the Code of Virginia, the six-year program is based on the official revenue forecast from the Department of Taxation. That forecast shows declining growth in the key transportation funding sources--the state gas tax and related transportation user fees. The highway construction program is reduced further by higher costs for asphalt, concrete, steel, aggregate and fuel, as well as rising maintenance needs.

"The Commonwealth Transportation Board has a legal responsibility to use the most recent official revenue forecast to update the transportation program by July 1," said Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer. "In the absence of General Assembly budget approval, today's program must be based on the November revenue forecast. The updated program includes steep reductions in the core transit programs and in the primary, secondary and urban road allocations."

Based on the official revenue forecast and consistent with state law and CTB policy goals, the program adopted shows a reduction in formula allocations of approximately $795 million, over six years. Total formula allocations to the construction program have been reduced as follows:

• Primaries (i.e. major roadways that are not interstates) - $318 million or 47%

• Secondaries (i.e. subdivision and rural roads) - $238.5 or 47%

• Urban streets (i.e. streets within town and cities) - $238.5 or 47%

"Unfortunately, local and regional financial resources will be required to offset many of these reductions," said Homer.

State money provided to transit capital projects will decline sharply. The portion of state funds used to match federal dollars for transit projects will drop to 22%, the lowest in the program's history, an approximate 50% reduction is historic funding levels.

The CTB also approved the final transportation budget for FY 07 (July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007).

The budget allocates $4.2 billion for all transportation costs, including maintenance and construction of Virginia's highway system, operations and administration, debt payments and support to ports, aviation and public transportation. After maintenance, debt and other priorities are funded from the budget, remaining revenues go to construction projects in the six-year program.

The DRPT budget includes $506 million for rail and public transportation in FY 07. This includes funding for transit improvements, commuter assistance programs and rail programs. Other key budget items include the purchase of new transit buses and facilities, Rail Enhancement Fund projects and the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

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