$17M for area in $3.1B proposal
Posted: January 23, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Construction on local roads could get the green light soon if Gov. Bob McDonnell gets his way.
McDonnell released a list of projects he would like to see receive funding should the General Assembly pass his proposed five-year, $3.1 billion transportation funding package that calls for replacing the state’s gasoline tax with a sales tax increase of nearly a penny on the dollar.
Of the $2.35 billion in new projects McDonnell wants to fund, Frederick and Clarke counties would see a combined four projects worth $17 million — the largest of which would be the replacement of the Millwood Pike bridge over Interstate 81.
Sulphur Springs Road (Route 655) in eastern Frederick County would also be reconstructed and the Fromans Road (Route 623) bridge over Cedar Creek would be replaced. Roads would also be paved in Frederick and Clarke counties.
McDonnell championed his transportation funding proposal in a Tuesday media release.
“Every corner of the commonwealth will reap the benefits of safer roads, quicker commutes and increased access to public transportation if this plan is adopted,” he said.
McDonnell’s proposal — which also hikes vehicle registration fees and diverts some current sales tax revenue to transportation — has received mixed reviews from around the state, and its outcome remains uncertain in a General Assembly now deeply divided after Senate Republicans sprung a furtive redistricting plan Monday, outraging Democrats.
Should the package pass, McDonnell is requesting that $1.28 billion of revenue be directed toward highway projects, while $1.07 billion go to rail and transit projects — including the Dulles Metrorail project and the extension of passenger rail to Roanoke.
McDonnell’s listed projects would still require the approval of the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board, which establishes administrative policies and allocates funds for Virginia’s transportation system.
Approximately $500 million of the governor’s transportation funding package would be allocated to prevent delay on projects that have already started.
The local projects McDonnell lists are likely already on the regional six-year plan, said F. Dixon Whitworth Jr. of Winchester, who represents the Staunton District — one of nine state transportation zones, which includes the local area — on the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
With increased funding, more of the projects could begin or move along faster, he said.
There are a lot of projects in the Winchester area that are awaiting funding, Whitworth said.
“We’d like to widen Interstate 81 and add more interstate exits, for example,” he said.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com