News and Views

VBT : Bringing Recognition & Responsibility to Virginia’s Transportation Infrastructure: Part II

House Bill 1887: HB1887 passed in 2015 in order to further refine HB2’s scoring process by setting specific funding parameters for HB2313’s funding.

As you will recall from Bringing Recognition & Responsibility to Virginia’s Transportation Infrastructure: Part I, the largest transportation-funding package in Virginia history, HB2313, passed in 2013 has been a lifesaver to the state’s suffering transportation infrastructure. To ensure that HB2313’s funding was distributed fairly across the Commonwealth, legislators passed HB2 in 2014, which scores transportation projects based on multiple factors: safety, congestion mitigation, accessibility, environmental quality, economic development and land use. This past General Assembly, yet another transportation bill was passed in an effort to designate HB2313’s funding objectively—HB1887, which was created to categorize the amount of revenue used for projects chosen through HB2.

HB1887 “takes it [HB2] a step further,” according to Sec. Layne and further refines the process of distributing funding in an effort to spend that money responsibly. “HB1887 really recognizes that there are differences in the Commonwealth and those assets need to be take care of.”

Through HB1887, revenue spending is broken down into percentages and designated into three categories: State of Good Repair (45 percent), High Priority Projects (27 percent) and District Grant Program (27.5 percent). This revenue will be distributed to the nine Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) construction districts.

“Every district gets a piece of this money,” Sec. Layne said, “so no longer is it a question of urban and rural.” And districts cannot receive less than 5.5 percent or more than 17.5 percent. A notable adjustment in revenue dispersal is that once a project is selected for funding, it will be fully funded and can move forward without delay due to lack of money. Prior to HB1887, projects could get interrupted while funding was being sorted.

The State of Good Repair category is also significant because it recognizes the importance of restoring and maintaining our current roads and infrastructure. “It will take time though,” Sec. Layne explains. “The reason we came up with this percentage is that it appears that 45 percent over the next 10 years will get all of our assets back up to what our acceptable levels are.”

The only exception to these rules would be if a major transportation infrastructure emergency occurred, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) was forced to reorganize funding in order to fix the issue.

Virginia legislators recognize that traffic congestion in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads remains a critical issue. But thanks to HB2 and HB1887, light can be shed on failing bridges and roadways that are hampering economic development in rural towns and smaller cities. HB2 and HB1887 may not solve all of Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure issues, but these bills will significantly help our state’s transportation get back on track.

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