Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715
Jennifer Pickett 804-786-7432
Feb. 4, 2009
COMMONWEALTH CONSIDERS REVISIONS TO SIX-YEAR IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Highway Project Cuts Grow to $2 Billion from Plan Adopted in June
On Feb. 5, the CTB will host a final public meeting to discuss changes to the program that occurred since a series of six-year program hearings were held in January.
The revised program is posted for public review on VirginiaDOT.org.
The CTB is responding to an overall $2.6 billion shortfall in available state and federal transportation revenues over the next six years. A total of $2 billion in highway cuts has now been trimmed from the original six-year improvement program adopted in June. This is on top of $1.1 billion in cuts made when that program was adopted.
“These are the most challenging times seen in several generations,” said Pierce R. Homer, Virginia secretary of transportation. “The reality is stark. We’ve all but eliminated future projects for congestion relief and economic development. We now must focus only on the phases of projects under way and keeping our infrastructure from crumbling.”
A Commitment to Rail, Transit and Highway Maintenance
This six-year program revision highlights the CTB’s continued support of public transportation.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will allocate $2.8 billion to rail and transit operators for capital improvements such as replacing trains and buses and operational improvements that will support transportation choices for the traveling public.
While highway funding continues to decrease, the transit and rail portion of the six-year program has grown to 33 percent in the current revised draft program.
“Transit has become an economic lifeline in many communities across Virginia and this spending program reflects that,” said Charles M. Badger, DRPT acting director.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is required by law to maintain its existing roadways before building new ones. VDOT estimates that it needs more than $1 billion to stabilize deteriorating pavements on its 58,000-mile highway network and $3.7 billion to replace its structurally deficient bridges.
“Our revenues continue to shrink while our need to maintain our existing highway network grows,” said David S. Ekern, VDOT commissioner. “Even by transferring $3.2 billion from construction to maintenance over the next six years, we are falling behind in our ability to repair crumbling pavements and aging bridges. We are forced to reduce our annual increase in maintenance investments from 4 percent to 3 percent.”
VDOT will focus available construction and maintenance funding to addressing serious interstate, primary road pavement needs and to replace deteriorating or aging structures among the commonwealth’s 20,879 structures and bridges.
Over time, limited available funding and increased costs of maintenance activities will mean lower levels of service for drivers and a likely deterioration in pavement and bridge conditions.
VDOT will have to eliminate approximately 1,000 employees and reduce service levels for such items as rest areas, ferry services and roadside maintenance to focus funding on pavements and bridges.
Transportation revenue reductions have forced the CTB to significantly reduce the six-year program over the past several years:
- Fiscal Years 2008-13 Program adopted June 2007: $11 billion ($8.7 billion for highways)
- Fiscal Years 2009-14 Program adopted June 2008: $10.6 billion ($7.9 billion for highways)
Revised Fiscal Years 2009-14 Program to be adopted February 2009: $8.9 billion ($6.0 billion for highways)
"Reductions like these will have serious impacts to our long-term project development process,” said Ekern. “What we see here today is not a one-time shortfall that we can weather just by cutting back on the number of projects. New construction is going to be a novelty for our foreseeable future. These changes mean a fundamental shift from VDOT’s role as a road builder to this department becoming a maintenance and emergency response agency.”
Impact on Localities
The impact of these funding reductions will be felt throughout the commonwealth.
All available revenues will be committed to fund required maintenance activities, to pay debt and to fund projects already under way.
Federal funds will continue to be distributed as required.
Localities will no longer be able to count on state funding to pay for road construction and maintenance.
Transit agencies will also no longer be able to depend on state funding to significantly offset operating costs.
“The only way we can keep our maintenance commitments, meet our federal obligations and honor all of the contracts currently in place to build projects around the state is to reduce other projects and programs,” Homer said. “We know this will seriously affect localities’ efforts to meet local transportation needs, but there just simply is not enough revenue to go around.”
Funding in the Revised Program Funding in the Adopted June Fiscal Years 2009-14 Program
Interstate $ 1.4 billion $2.1 billion
Primary $ 1.3 billion $1.6 billion
Secondary $611 million $986 million
Urban $518 million $763 million
Additional Public Input Sought
On Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m., the CTB will host a public hearing to further discuss the revised draft program. The meeting will be held at VDOT’s Central Office Auditorium, 1221 E. Broad St., Richmond.
The CTB will hold its regularly scheduled monthly workshop and meeting at noon on Feb. 19, in VDOT’s Central Office Auditorium, 1221 E. Broad St., Richmond.
It is expected to finalize the revised Fiscal Years 2009-2014 Six-Year Improvement Program at this meeting.
The latest revisions to the program will also be posted at www.VirginiaDOT.org for public review. The CTB has extended the deadline for written comments to be submitted via mail or e-mail until Feb. 13, 2009.
Written comments can be submitted to:
Public Information Office
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
1313 E. Main St., Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219
Virginia Department of Transportation
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.