At its board meeting Thursday, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization will begin to sketch out how to spend the region's funds provided under the landmark transportation bill state lawmakers passed in February.
Hampton Roads is poised to receive nearly $200 million a year under the plan, but many questions remain as to how the money will be spent and the process for allocation. HRTPO's board which meets Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in Chesapeake, is comprised of local elected city and county officials and chaired by Hampton Mayor Molly Joseph Ward
The past few years the board has spent much of its time working to prioritize regional transportation needs in the event funding became available. Projects like the expansion of I-64 on the Peninsula have ranked high on that list and Ward has told the Daily Press she believes funding should go by the prioritization list.
The board is poised to vote on a resolution that recommends VDOT look at widening I-64 to six lanes as an interim solution, without preventing a larger-scale permanent widening of I-64 all the way to Richmond. The stretch of I-64 on the Peninsula, especially between Newport News and James City County has been a long-time regional choke point.
Board members will also look at the results of two separate VDOT studies that examine expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel or the building of a third crossing. But regional transportation experts and planners say the money provided in the General Assembly's legislation will not be enough to build either project.
Dwight Farmer, executive director of HRTPO, said the maximum bonding capacity of the money provided by the regional component of funding in the bill is unlikely to exceed $3 billion.
"We'll be recommending it would not be advisable at this time to put all these revenue proceeds towards all bonding or a single project," Farmer said. He said it was important the region used its funds to chase federal dollars, which require a portion to be matched by the state.
Copyright 2013 - Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)