Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715
Jennifer Pickett 804-786-7432
June 18, 2009
FINAL FISCAL YEARS 2010 – 2015 SIX-YEAR TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM APPROVED
VDOT Budget Also Approved--Finalizes Service Reductions for Ferries, Rest Areas, Mowing and Safety Service Patrols
RICHMOND – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) adopted the Six-Year Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2010-2015 today at their meeting in Richmond. The $7.4 billion program is down from $8.9 billion in the revised FY 2009-2014 program approved in February.
The CTB also adopted the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) maintenance and operations budget for fiscal year 2010. This action finalizes VDOT’s reduction to services including:
- Reducing 42 rest areas and welcome centers to 23
- Reducing $20 million of mowing and roadside maintenance
- Reducing ferry services
- Scaling back interstate maintenance contracts
- Reducing Safety Service Patrols
- Closing VDOT residency offices and equipment shops
Six-Year Improvement Program
The FY 2010-2015 Six-Year Program reflects $650 million in cuts to the highways and $880 million in reductions to rail and transit. The highway declines are largely a result of continued state and federal revenue shortfalls, while the transit and rail declines are mainly attributed to the transfer of $776 million in Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project funding to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
“The commonwealth is facing a crisis in transportation funding,” said Pierce R. Homer, Virginia secretary of transportation. “These drastic reductions reflect our ongoing challenge to meet federal obligations and state maintenance needs while experiencing drastic declines in state and federal revenues. We are fortunate to have been able to maintain our rail and transit programs and services.”
Transportation revenue reductions have forced the CTB to repeatedly reduce the six-year program:
- Fiscal Years 2010-15 program—$7.4 billion ($5.4 billion for highways)
- Revised Fiscal Years 2009-14 program adopted February 2009—$8.9 billion ($6.0 billion for highways)
- Fiscal Years 2009-14 program adopted June 2008—$10.6 billion ($7.9 billion for highways)
- Fiscal Years 2008-13 program adopted June 2007—$11 billion ($8.7 billion for highways)
The CTB applied previously allocated but unused dollars from interstate projects to fund two major ready-to-go projects in order to use federal funds for FY 2009. More than $97 million from projects with phases not currently under way was reallocated to fund the I-95 bridge rehabilitation and I-64 paving projects in the Richmond District.
“While the reduction in available state rail, transit and commuter service funding in the FY2010-2015 program is primarily due to the reassignment of the Dulles Metrorail Project, the transit and rail programs and services have been spared the drastic reductions of other areas of government,” said DRPT Director Charles M. Badger, P.E.
The six-year improvement program is available at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/syp-default.asp. Details of the rail and transit program are available at www.drpt.virginia.gov.
The CTB’s adoption of VDOT’s $3.47 billion budget including $1.7 billion for maintenance and operations finalized recommendations to reduce motorist services.
“These are not easy decisions to make,” said David. S. Ekern, VDOT commissioner. “It is a sobering reality that we cannot balance our budget with the drastic reduction to the construction program. We must also scale back on services to motorists. Even with these sacrifices, we still face the need for a significant reorganization that will shrink VDOT’s staffing by 1,000 full-time and 450 part-time employees.”
VDOT recommended in February a series of reductions to address a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. These include reductions over the next six years of $2 billion to the construction program, $391 million to administrative and support programs, and $348 million in reductions to the maintenance and operations program. The department collected feedback during 11 public meetings in March. It then proposed final recommendations to the CTB in May after considering public input and completing additional analysis.
VDOT will implement $1.27 million in total ferry service reductions beginning in July 2009.
The department will retain current 24/7 operations at the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry in Hampton Roads but will streamline internal operations and security practices to save $1.1 million annually. VDOT has reached agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to alter its security practices to reduce costs.
Beginning July 1, motorists may notice a change in the security procedures. Vehicle security screening will change from a 24/7 process, to a condensed, alternating schedule.
To meet the requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2004, the percentage of vehicles screened per day will remain the same. To compress the screening plan, security teams will randomly alternate locations on either side of the river and times of day. Additionally, security personnel will physically patrol the facility and the vessels and will monitor closed-circuit television cameras.
Screening frequency will increase and the amount of time to screen vehicles could cause added delays. Motorists should allow additional time to board the ferry.
VDOT will also pursue $30 million to replace the oldest boat in the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry.
The Hatton Ferry near Charlottesville will no longer be maintained by the department. Discussions are under way to turn over maintenance and operations of the Hatton Ferry to Albemarle County if the county wishes to fund these activities in the future.
Service hours at the Merry Point and Sunnybank ferries on the Northern Neck will be reduced.
VDOT will reduce the total number of rest areas it operates from 42 to 23, electing to retain six rest areas initially slated to close. These include four facilities along the I-81 corridor (Radford south, Ironto north, Fairfield south and New Market north) and two truck-only facilities in Dale City. These changes represent $9 million in annual savings. Details about closure schedules and additional information will be made available in late June.
The department will address truck parking concerns by retaining the two Interstate 95 Dale City truck-only facilities in Northern Virginia and replacing the “two-hour” commercial parking rule in rest areas with “no overnight parking.” This will allow truck drivers to better manage their mandated 10-hour rest periods so long as they do not park in any facility from dusk through dawn within any 24-hour period. VDOT will replace 225 truck parking spaces lost to facility closures by reconfiguring parking lots at some remaining facilities.
The commonwealth will continue to pursue federal legislation changes necessary to allow future rest area commercialization, currently prohibited by law.
Safety Service Patrols
VDOT will reconfigure service delivery models, coverage areas and hours of service for Safety Service Patrols beginning in July to save $6.5 million per year. It will eliminate private motorist assistance contracts and scale-back service to 2001 levels. This leaves “roving” service patrols in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, while VDOT crews will be dispatched to address incidents elsewhere in the state.
Mowing and Interstate Maintenance Services
VDOT began reducing $20 million in roadside services in March by changing the frequency of grass cutting and reducing the number of acres it mows. Crews are focusing on sight-distance mowing needs rather than aesthetic grass cutting.
VDOT will renegotiate interstate maintenance contracts to focus on routine maintenance and emergency response. The agency is working with contractors to save an estimated $7.8 million.
Snow and Ice
Snow removal activities will not be impacted by any of these reductions.
VDOT Facility Closings
VDOT also outlined the final listing of planned facility closures, including 15 VDOT field administrative units — called residencies — and streamlining equipment shops, materials labs and operations centers. These closures will begin in 2009 as the agency reconfigures its operations to reflect long-term reductions in the number of construction projects, workload, staffing and equipment needs.
“We have lived our commitment to make these difficult business decisions with transparency and to collect public input before we finalized our plan,” Ekern said. “These are not easy decisions, but as we respond to our revenue shortfalls and long-term, fundamental changes to our business and staffing levels, we must adapt.”
To learn more detail about VDOT’s service reductions, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/default.asp#blueprint
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.