Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced June 18 that the public was heard and their transportation priorities were carefully considered, resulting in adjustments to the final Six-Year Improvement Program. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the program, which allocates $13.1 billion to highway, road, bridge, rail, transit, bicycle/pedestrian paths and other transportation improvements throughout Virginia over a six-year period beginning July 1, 2014.
“When the draft program was made available to the public in April, I directed Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to ramp up public involvement by getting out into the communities and holding hearings in nine regions across the state to solicit public input,” said McAuliffe. “Nearly 400 people attended and 1,620 oral and written comments were collected. From that information, the CTB adjusted the program to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else.”
Project highlights include:
- Widening 8 miles of the most congested stretches of I-64 on the Peninsula;
- Extending the Tide light rail system into Virginia Beach;
- Providing two new passenger trains from Richmond to Norfolk;
- Making safety improvements and repairs along I-81, including Exit 14 in Abingdon and Exit 150 in Roanoke;
- Improving Rte. 220 in Botetourt County;
- Developing I-66 improvements, extending the use of shoulders on I-495 and tie-in to the express lanes, and improving the Rte. 28 interchange in northern Virginia;
- Widening Rte. 7 over the Dulles Toll Road;
- Funding improvements in the Metro 2025 program, including upgrades for eight-car trains along the Metrorail Orange line;
- Expanding VRE platforms and adding the VRE Potomac Shores station in Prince William County;
- Providing a package of improvements to Rte. 29 through Charlottesville, which replaces the bypass; and
- Funding a second passenger train to Lynchburg.
The six-year program will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritization process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by McAuliffe earlier this year. Under the process, projects will be objectively selected based on regional needs.
Layne added, “There will be no special governor’s list of projects, but rather a strategic transportation program based on selecting the right projects that provide the maximum benefit for limited tax dollars.”
The CTB will work in collaboration with localities to set weights for key factors like congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. Specific projects will then be screened and selected for funding beginning in July 2016.
“Key priorities in the program approved today and future updates will continue to be improving the existing infrastructure, including rebuilding aging bridges and roads across the state,” said Charlie Kilpatrick, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Jennifer Mitchell said, “The final program also reflects added funds for rail and transit projects to enhance regional mobility and provide more transportation choices.”