February 25, 2013
The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that raises taxes. The money acquired will go toward Virginia transportation.
Delegate David Toscano, Democratic Delegate for the 57th District, said, "This is the first major influx of new transportation money for the last 26 years. So, I think it's far to say this bill has been 26 years in the making."
Not everyone agreed that raising taxes was the way to reform transportation.
Delegate Rob Bell, Republican Delegate for the 58th District, said, "We all understood there was a need to find new money for roads. The question was, we had a budget that started at $47 billion and rose is now $87 billion. Is there enough money there to find the money for roads without new taxes? I thought so but, obviously the will of the body was to support the tax plan."
Albemarle County's transportation budget has felt the hit over the past several years. With hopes of new money coming in, our local roads could see improvements.
Dennis Rooker, Albemarle County Supervisor, said, "During the past six years or so, our secondary road funds in the county have gone from about $5.5 million dollars a year to $330,000 dollars a year."
With nearly $1.3 million dollars under discussion, where is all of the money going across Virginia?
Toscano said, "It will give a real shot in the arm to our efforts to make sure our bridges are safe and well maintained, our roads are paved and well maintained, that we build new roads where needed, and that we provide transit and rail funding so that we can keep the Commonwealth competitive."
Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will see a majority of the funding. Here in Central Virginia, we're more likely to see dollars going toward maintenance and not new construction.
Rooker said, "The money is assigned by region and within each region there will be certain projects that will go forward. I think the biggest impact here will be on maintenance money. We were reaching a point where all of the money was being used for maintenance under the current system."
The Culpeper VDOT district will be getting an extra $40 million dollars on top of the projects already funded. Most of that will go toward Culpeper County for a new Route 29 interchange. Behind them, Albemarle county will get an extra $3 million dollars for paving and road maintenance. But, in Albemarle County, Rooker is skeptical of the actual numbers.
Rooker said, "The numbers I have seen on the projections for additional revenue seem to be a bit overly optimistic. I certainly hope it turns out that the package that they have created will provide more funding for transportation in the state and all for the state to improve transit, rail services, as well as roads."
Starting in July, we will likely see a 3.5% gasoline tax instead of the 17.5 cents per gallon we have now. For diesel fuel, there will be a 6% gas tax.