Northern Va. may get more road maintenance funds
RICHMOND – Northern Virginia would get a bigger share of the state’s highway maintenance funds under legislation being sponsored by Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67th).
House Bill 1884 would allocate the funds “on the basis of vehicle miles traveled in each highway construction district compared to vehicle miles traveled in the Commonwealth as a whole.”
The Virginia Department of Transportation divides the state into nine districts. Under LeMunyon’s bill, for example, if a district represents 25 percent of all the vehicle miles traveled in Virginia, it would get roughly 25 percent of the highway maintenance funds.
“Any such allocation may vary by plus or minus 10 percent from this ratio in a particular highway construction district in a particular fiscal year, provided that a three-fiscal-year moving average of funds allocated for any given district shall be at least 100 percent of that required by the ratio for each district,” HB 1884 states.
It also says the state highway commissioner “may direct funds to any specific highway segment or other transportation facility that he determines is in need of maintenance or repair because of a significant risk to public safety, provided he has provided written notice of his determination and the specific reasons therefore in writing to all the members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.”
LeMunyon said his bill represents a fairer way to distribute highway maintenance funds.
“Right now there’s a process VDOT has to allocate that money based on need, which is just fine, except that need seems to be more focused on areas outside Northern Virginia,” LeMunyon said. “In a way, that looks like Northern Virginia is getting shortchanged.”
A subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee voted 3-2 in favor of HB 1884. The bill is awaiting a vote by the full committee.
The three subcommittee members who favored the measure are all delegates from Northern Virginia: Republicans Tom Rust of Herndon and Randy Minchew of Leesburg, and Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn of Springfield.
The two subcommittee members who voted against HB 1884 were from Republican Delegates Scott Garrett of Lynchburg and Ed Scott of Culpeper.
Tamara Rollison, communications division administrator for VDOT, said the agency works with lawmakers.
“As with any transportation legislation, VDOT provides the information and facts so lawmakers can make the best decisions possible,” she said. She said it was too early to comment on HB 1884.
Transportation is a priority for the General Assembly this legislative session. Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed a plan to provide more than $3.1 billion in transportation funding for Virginia over the next five years, including $1.8 billion for new construction. McDonnell wants to eliminate the gas tax and replace it with a higher sales tax. He says this would provide a long-term solution for funding transportation.
Transportation also is a priority for LeMunyon. Of the 15 bills he has filed this session, six involve transportation. They include:
●HB 1885, which would require VDOT to rate the pavement condition of every highway in the state every five years and post the ratings on a website. The House Appropriations Committee this week unanimously approved the proposal.
●HB 1886, which would prohibit over-the-road operation of certain vehicles whose tire weights exceed guidelines. This bill has cleared the House Transportation Committee.
●HB 2020, which would prohibit the use of toll revenues “for any purpose other than the construction, reconstruction, replacement, maintenance replacement, improvement, or maintenance of the facility for the use of which the tolls were imposed and collected.” This bill is before the House Transportation Committee.
Some of LeMunyon’s other bills include:
●HB 2019, which would “require that a current copy of all school division policies and regulations must be posted on the division’s website and available to employees and to the public.” A subcommittee of the House Education Committee has recommended approval of the proposal.
●HB 2021, which would prohibit discrimination in public employment “based on race, color, religion, political affiliation, national origin, sex, age, disability, or any other reason except reasons related to skills, knowledge, or ability.” The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on General Laws.
●HB 2068, which would require school divisions to provide early intervention services to students in kindergarten and first and second grade “who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on diagnostic reading tests.” The bill also would require schools to provide extra help to students in grades six through nine who are at risk of failing the state’s Algebra I end-of-course test. The House unanimously passed the bill Tuesday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
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