Gov. McDonnell Signs Historic Transportation Investment Legislation

CHESTER, Va., April 18 -- The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation issued the following news release:

At an early afternoon event held on the site of the currently under-construction Meadowville Interchange on I-295 in Chester, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law today the most significant investment in the Commonwealth's transportation system in a generation. The legislation, HB2527 and SB1446, sponsored by Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) and Senators Chuck Colgan (D-Manassas) and William Wampler (R-Bristol), creates a framework to invest nearly $4 billion into Virginia's road, rail and transit networks, and fund more than 900 projects, over the next three years without raising taxes. The Meadowville Interchange is one of the 900 projects receiving funding from the legislation.

Speaking about the transportation legislation, Governor McDonnell noted, "It has been over 20 years since we have made a major investment in our transportation system. For far too long Virginians sat stuck in traffic while partisan politics put the brakes on progress. This year we put partisanship aside and recognized that for Virginia to retain its status as the friendliest state in the nation for business, we must invest in transportation and help the private sector create much-needed jobs in all parts of the Commonwealth. This common-sense legislation takes advantage of previously authorized and innovative new financing mechanisms at a time when interest rates and construction costs are at near historic lows and Virginians are in dire need of jobs. We are putting billions into our roads without a tax increase."

The governor continued, "All regions of the Commonwealth will benefit from 900 projects that will be funded by this legislation. They include improvements to bridges and rural roads in Southwest Virginia, new capacity and congestion relief in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and rail and transit improvements throughout Virginia. A recent report by Chmura Economics shows that construction of the 900 projects will grow the Virginia economy by over $13 billion and support an additional 100,000 jobs. This transportation legislation that we are signing today is a bipartisan achievement that will benefit Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth."

The following projects are examples of the nearly 900 that will be funded by this program:

* Widening of I-66 from Gainesville to Haymarket and the installation of an active traffic management system on I-66 to dynamically control lanes to reduce congestion

* Major interchange improvements on I-64, I-81 and I-95, in Frederick, Augusta, Stafford, and Louisa Counties

* Widening Route 7 in Loudoun County

* Rebuilding the Route 460 Southgate Avenue intersection in Montgomery County

* Widening Lynnhaven Parkway, Holland Road and Witch Duck Road in Virginia Beach, as well as replacing the Lesner Bridge

* Investments in Washington Metro, Hampton Roads Light rail, and other transit providers, including VRE to extend to Spotsylvania County.

* Several Route 58 Corridor projects

* Advancing PPTA projects such as the widening of Dominion Boulevard in Chesapeake; the constructing of a new tube for the Midtown Tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth; advancing the HOV/HOT lanes on I95 in Northern Virginia; and construction of a new Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg

Following the ceremony, Senator Chuck Colgan, Democratic President pro tempore of the State Senate, said, "I applaud Governor McDonnell for taking vital steps toward addressing the Commonwealth's transportation crisis. The reforms signed into law today, combined with this infusion of funding and the governor's work on transportation over the last year will have a lasting impact in beginning to address these challenges."

Delegate Glenn Oder commented, "From Hampton Roads to the Cumberland Gap, and from Northern Virginia to Danville, Virginians have faced deteriorating roads, increasing congestion, and challenges with access to goods and services because we have been unable to pass a comprehensive transportation plan that invests in our roads, rails and public transportation systems, and because our government bureaucracy has hindered the efficient use of available resources for transportation. This year, we worked across the aisle to usher in a new era for transportation that better manages our transportation funding and makes VDOT more efficient and responsive to the needs of our citizens."

Jeff Southard, executive vice president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance said, "Virginia's transportation system is finally receiving the significant investment that will not only improve the travel experience for the millions who depend upon Virginia's roads and transit systems each day, but it will support much-needed jobs for construction professionals throughout the Commonwealth. The transportation construction industry is a major economic driver and provider of employment in Virginia that has struggled because we have neglected our responsibility to invest in the Commonwealth's infrastructure for so long. The legislation signed today will help Virginia's economy to once again thrive."

The legislation, which passed with the broad bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans in both bodies of the General Assembly, uses several financing mechanisms that will enable the Commonwealth to take advantage of historically low interest rates on bonds and construction bids that are coming in well below project estimates.

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