Thursday, April 17, 2008

44 Percent Decrease in Road Spending over Next Six Years

According to an article in the Washington Post, "state lawmakers' failure to increase funding for transportation improvements or come up with a way to allow Northern Virginia to raise its own taxes for such projects will result in a 44 percent reduction in statewide spending for roads over six years, according to projections released yesterday."

The Post noted that "Under a revised statewide plan for transportation spending... the $24 million Loudoun County expected would be cut to $10.5 million."

"All told, the Virginia Department of Transportation's six-year statewide road and transit plan was cut by $1.1 billion. The reduction includes $300 million from the repeal of the abusive-driver fees, which were approved last year.

"VDOT officials said the cuts were prompted by a slowing economy. Virginia's gasoline tax is set at 17.5 cents a gallon, not as a percentage such as the sales tax. So the state treasury has not benefited from the spike in gas prices. Although gas tax revenue remains flat, contractors bidding on transportation projects must take into consideration the skyrocketing price of fuel, materials and labor. The result is that fewer projects are started.

"Motor-vehicle sales and use taxes also are down, as are vehicle license fees, retail sales and recordation taxes, according to the draft VDOT released yesterday."

The Post article adds that the public will be allowed to comment on the proposal at meetings across the state, including a May 14 hearing at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. The Commonwealth Transportation Board is scheduled to approve the plan at its June meeting.

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