Loudoun transportation projects a priority for McDonnell
Gov. Bob McDonnell didn’t forget about Loudoun County when he considered his list of high-priority transportation projects across the state, projects he says would benefit from his sweeping legislative proposal to improve Virginia’s roadways.
Atop McDonnell’s priorities, released Jan. 22, is the massive transportation initiative that hinged largely on one of the most historic votes in Loudoun Board of Supervisors history: the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
Loudoun’s supervisors voted 5-4 in July 2012 to remain a critical funding partner in the estimated $5.5 billion Dulles Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, often called Rail to Dulles.
But that wasn’t the only Loudoun-focused project on the governor’s checklist. McDonnell also included the proposed Route 606 enhancements, which the Board of Supervisors designated in 2012 as its top road priority.
Loudoun Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), the board’s vice chair, said Wednesday he was especially pleased to see Rail to Dulles topping the list. The governor is pushing for $300 million in new transportation revenues to be directed to the Rail to Dulles project. This is in addition to the $150 million the state has already pledged to the second phase of the project.
That, paired with Route 606, known to some as the “Dulles loop,” essentially reaffirms the board’s view that those are the two most significant projects for the future of Loudoun County, Williams agreed.
“We have many projects here in Loudoun that need to be funded by the state. So I’m glad the governor sees that,” he said.
Williams’ colleague, Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), said in late 2012 the vastly overcrowded Route 606 is essential for residents in his district to connect with the Dulles Greenway and Route 28.
“And it will only get worse unless we widen it and improve the intersection at Route 50,” Letourneau said. “An improved 606 will also help attract businesses around Dulles airport which is good for our commercial tax base and the long term viability of airport-related industries and the airport itself.”
Also among the Republican governor’s priorities is the interchange at I-66 and Route 28. While in Fairfax County, that interchange sees substantial use by Loudoun commuters.
McDonnell’s plan, which he’s dubbed “Virginia’s Road to the Future,” includes eliminating the state’s 17.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax and increasing Virginia’s sales and use tax nearly one percent. McDonnell held press conferences across the state Thursday to tout and seek support for the proposal.
The governor’s office says “Virginia’s Road to the Future,” if adopted by the state legislature, would provide more than $3.1 billion in transportation funding for the commonwealth over the next five years, including $1.8 billion for new construction, ending the state’s crossover dilemma, in which money meant for construction is currently diverted to simple maintenance.
The transportation pitch would also increase the vehicle registration fee by $15, with the revenue going toward intercity passenger rail and transit, and impose a $100 annual fee on alternative fuel vehicles, also to be used for transit.
“The recommended list of transportation infrastructure projects represents a significant down payment on Virginia’s transportation future,” McDonnell said in a prepared statement. “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. A world-class transportation system is vital to both economic opportunity and to the quality of life of every Virginian.”