Joint Subcommittee to Study Funding Unfunded Transportation Projects in Hampton Roads
August 28, 2001, Virginia Beach
Speaking on behalf of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the assistant commissioner for finance laid out for the members the allocations contained in the department's six-year allocation plan for the period ending in fiscal year 2005-2006. Total allocations for this period equaled $2.18 billion and varied from a high of $485,712,000 for fiscal year 2000-2001 to a low of $314,698,000.
The figures show that the amount of money available to fund highway construction would be declining over the same period during which pressure on highway infrastructure from increased traffic would be increasing. VDOT's priorities were first to fund projects that were already under contract, then to allocate monies required to match federal funds, and finally to fund Public-Private Transportation Act projects. As to projects to be constructed in the Hampton Roads region, it is essential that there first be agreement on what the region's essential projects are, what revenues are available to fund those projects, and what resources would be required to fill the gap between the cost of the essential projects and the revenues projected to be available to pay for them.
Meeting the transportation challenges of Hampton Roads will require a multi-modal effort, not just the building of more highways. Improvements of access to transportation systems and increases in the capacity of those systems are vital to future economic development.
Transit use in Hampton Roads is growing faster than vehicle miles traveled, and the social benefits flowing from increased transit use are often overlooked: more livable communities, improvements to environmental quality, and stimulation of business activity.
A serious impediment to realizing the full potential of mass transit service is the primary reliance on financial "contributions" from local governments (many of which are already experiencing considerable fiscal stress), with relatively meager participation by the state and federal governments. For mass transit to succeed in the region, state and federal contributions, not those of local governments, must be its primary sources of revenue.
Chairman Williams announced his intentions to have two more meetings before the end of the year. The first will be on October 9 in Norfolk City Council Chambers, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The second will be on November 14, at a location to be determined later.