Va. will have no money for new construction in 2017

Demand for maintenance dollars continues to drain account dedicated for fresh work

Funding News Richmond Times Dispatch October 06, 2011
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In an effort to repair broken roads and bridges, the state of Virginia said on Oct. 5 that when it comes to new construction the Commonwealth will be facing a broke scenario in five years.

“By 2017, we will have no money left in construction,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton told the Chamber of Commerce.

Fixing damaged roads are first priority according to Virginia law, and due to declining revenue little has been left for new capacity. Almost $450 million worth of funds intended for new construction this year has been transferred over to maintenance. In 2010, that number was even higher—$511 million. The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently working off a $4.76 billion budget; $1.3 billion is borrowed.

“If we solve the maintenance problem, we have $400 or $500 million a year for construction,” Connaughton added.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell does have a plan to attempt to resolve the financial crisis, but details have yet to surface.

According to Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, Virginia motorists are paying a fraction of the user fee they were paying 25 years ago.

“Virginians are not paying to maintain the system we have, much less build the system we need,” he said. “We’re in a death spiral.”

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