State Road Funding Plummets

How bad is the state’s financial situation? VDOT is allocating $325,000/year to Albemarle County each year for the next five years for secondary roads, Brian Wheeler writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow. Compare that to $5,150,000 in 2004. And that tiny bit that we’re still getting is from right-of-way fees in our own utility bills—the state is, strictly speaking, not giving us a penny. The only transportation project that’s happening now is Meadowcreek Parkway, and that’s due to federal funding from back in 2005.

You just can’t build much for $325,000 in the realm of transportation. That’ll get you a nice new sidewalk, maybe a hundred yards of widened road. Gov. Bob McDonnell was elected to office last November on a platform that involved a great deal of talk about solving the state’s transportation crisis (we’re fast hurtling towards the day when we can no longer maintain existing roads), which he pledged to do without raising taxes. If you can figure out how to do that, you might let the governor know—no doubt he’s wondering how to pull it off, too. The General Assembly lacks the political will to solve the transportation problem, which will require developing a long-term revenue source to fund roads at a rate that adjusts with the use of roads, such as by increasing the gas tax.

A fun fact from this article: “Secondary roads are those numbered 600 and above. Primary roads, such as U.S. 29, are funded from other sources for their construction and maintenance.”

16 thoughts on “State Road Funding Plummets”

  1. Albemarle County being the hotbed of liberalism of course would get short shrift with regard to transportation funding.

    It looks to me like McDonnell’s solution to the funding problem is to create enough pain for the localities that the localities (or this one at least) figure their own way out of the problem. (i.e. he’s trying to pass the buck.)

  2. That’s always been the way – whoever the governing body (fed, state, local) – no one wants to pay, so everyone tries to pass the bill along to someone else.

    Jim Gilmore and his “no car tax” pledge was the perfect example of this: The state gets rid of (or almost gets rid of, to be more accurate) personal property taxes, then leaves it up to the localities to fill in the blanks of where that money is gonna come from. And one can make the argument that a lot of Virginia’s transportation funding woes are a direct result of the loss of that “car tax” revenue, and the resulting scramble to cover those expenditures from other sources.

  3. I don’t think one needs to make the argument that the loss of revenue from the car tax is responsible for our current transportation funding woes. One may simply state it and be correct.

  4. “Albemarle County being the hotbed of liberalism of course would get short shrift with regard to transportation funding.”

    But, Bob McDonnell won Albemarle County. He got 50.54% of the vote.

  5. But, Bob McDonnell won Albemarle County. He got 50.54% of the vote.

    Yeah but as McDonnell and fellow Republicans might view things- there is this liberal cancer in the heart of Albemarle County which is known as Cville. ;)

  6. This crisis has been on the radar for many years now. The MPO tried to create a transit authority with taxing powers, but weren’t granted that by the state legislature. I interviewed the previous Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer about the possibilities of congestion pricing for managing peak demand and funding secondary roads. Mr. Homer believed that congestion pricing operations should be reserved for primary roads. I’m not sure how the current Secretary Connaughton feels about it. Personally, I believe that there should be a logical nexus between where public monies come from and what they are used for, a closed funding loop. Otherwise fairness and waste issues become a problem.

  7. Statewide, transportation funding has been a bipartisan disaster. There is a need for couragous leadership that ties the state’s need for economic development and the restrictions our limited transportation infrastructure creates.

    Lest anyone think I am discussing U.S. 29, I believe the needs of our state’s ports and getting material out of those ports takes priority over the delay to get from K-mart to Keglers.

    While congestion pricing is an interesting idea, I believe High Occupancy toll roads (with variable congestion tolls) and increased gas taxes are more likely solutions.

    Virginia ranks 40th in motor fuels taxes

    While not a stong proponent of increased taxation, motor fuels tax is as close as you get to a true “user” fee for the roadways.

    With that being said, I also belive such user fees should be used to move forward transportation projects that benefit the user (ie. Roads with Bike lines rather than bike only projects).

    Who will lead such a charge?

  8. Increase the gas tax by .50 cents per gallon – its a good user tax and it might decrease miles driven by some amount.

    Also roll back the growth of state employment numbers or at least th spending increases of the last couple admins.

  9. Are state taxes ( or lack thereof) the main cause of the transportation problem in Virginia? How much is attributable to the lack of an accountability mechanism for the costs associated with additional development?

    In most states, the locality must consider the costs associated with the additional traffic that comes with increasing development because the locality has to pay for road maintenance. In Virginia, the localities have approval rights over development, but the State (outside of cities) has to pick up the tab for the road upkeep. Perhaps more comprehensive planning is the real solution, rather than just more taxes.

  10. I wonder if fdr’s proposed gas tax increase would be absorbed or passed on to consumers by small truck- based home service businesses – plumbers for instance.

  11. blockhead, Any taxes would be passed on if possible. Yup, taxes are taxing – that’s why I hope we never have a Value Added Tax (VAT) since government will use it to continue growing.

    However a gas tax for transportation is taxing those who use the roads in proportion to their use. Small truck-based businesses like you suggest do use the roads as part of their service delivery.

  12. Please, no tolls on I-81 at least. That’s the way I, and many others, commute north to avoid the jams on I-95 (which, of course, happen right around toll booths).

    I’d rather have a small bump to the gas tax, no question.

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