Even though the General Assembly could not agree on long-term funding for transportation again during the 2009 session, large-scale projects are still underway.
Public-private partnerships have resulted in simultaneous activity on the Beltway HOT lanes and the first five stations of Metrorail extension to Dulles. HOT lanes will be paid for by user tolls.
The first Metrorail stops will include four in Tysons Corner and one at Wiehle Ave. in Reston. The final six stops will extend the system beyond Dulles Airport into Loudoun County. Passengers should be able to go from D.C. to Dulles without changing trains in 2016.
In the meantime, bridge repair and re-construction on the HOT lanes project continues. As required in my Budget amendment in 2004, noise walls are underway that will mitigate the impacts of the construction from Gallows Road north, and along the new Metro route to Rt. 123. In addition, massive bridge repair and replacement has been initiated along the Beltway and into Tyson’s Corner.
On the other hand, shortfalls in revenue have slowed road and intersection repairs dramatically. Although VDOT staff has told me that the Gallows Road Rt.29 intersection repair and upgrade will continue to move forward.
Massive right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation have escalated the cost of the project to more than $120 million. Depending on the completion of the relocation of a very large waterline, construction should start late next year according to VDOT.
Elections do matter
Even with the optimistic projections for the projects mentioned above, transportation funding necessary to reduce congestion and to promote economic development is still in jeopardy. The outcomes of the state-wide elections for Governor, Lt. Governor and House of Delegates will critical.
The last major funding measure supported by the Governor and passed by the Senate last year would have guaranteed a large, continuing funding stream over approximately $500 million for the region.
Unfortunately, because the funding bill failed in the House on a party-line vote, the regions’ 2020 Transportation Plan will be re-written as a 2035 Plan. I hope all readers of this column will pay close attention to the campaigns for state-wide offices and the House of Delegates to ensure that candidate spell out how they would finance needed transportation improvements. The key target is 51 votes in the House of Delegates.