VA: RMA Would Become RMTA

Feb. 11--The Richmond Regional Transportation Authority is out. The Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in.

The House of Delegates made the name change Monday in legislation to equalize jurisdictional representation on what is now the Richmond Metropolitan Authority. The House then gave preliminary approval by voice vote to House Bill 597, which is up for final passage today.

Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, requested the amended name to satisfy the concerns of counties in the Richmond region that are not part of the authority, which consists of Richmond, Chesterfield County and Henrico County.

The change was welcomed by David T. Williams, a Powhatan County supervisor and chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which conducts transportation planning for nine jurisdictions in the region.

Powhatan, Hanover, Goochland, New Kent and Charles City counties had opposed Loupassi's original bill, which would have changed the name of the RMA to the Richmond Regional Transportation Authority.

The smaller counties' concern was rooted in the landmark $6 billion transportation funding law adopted last year. The law levies additional taxes in localities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads planning districts to raise revenue for regional transportation projects. The Richmond region does not yet have enough population, registered vehicles, or transit miles traveled to qualify for the funds.

Williams and other local officials in the region had expressed concern that the RMA one day would receive revenues from taxes imposed in all nine localities in the region but not all of the localities would have a say in how the money would be spent.

If the House gives final approval today, the bill will move to the Senate, where a similar bill to equalize representation among Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico on the RMA was defeated last year.

This year, however, the bill has the support of Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, who blocked it last year, as well as Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the boards of supervisors in Chesterfield and Henrico.

"I think we should be in good shape," Loupassi said.

Copyright 2014 - Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.