A few days ago, I received an interesting letter from the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) about the shortage of construction funds available to Northern Virginia localities. Similar to our Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), PRTC is composed of elected officials from member jurisdictions south and west of Fairfax County.
PRTC’s state legislative agenda is similar to that of NVTC. Like NVTC , PRTC offers a careful critique of a very inadequate state participation in a solution to the growing congestion and backlog of needs : “…state participation rates in support of public transportation are much lower than the General Assembly’s stated aim of providing state support sufficient to cover “95 % of eligible public transportation costs.”
While new public transportation services have -or will be-started, no substantial additional funding streams have been created by the Commonwealth, except for the $3 billion debt funding created last year. Like NVTC, PRTC supports increasing the 2.1% gas tax.
Like NVTC, PRTC points out that continuing and/or enhancing existing highway maintenance frequently is possible only by diverting other funding including that originally intended for highway construction.
Several other suggestions offered by PRTC, including protection from liability when HOV lanes are converted to HOT lanes seem to have merit, but don’t address the continuing need of large infusions of construction funding-and the need to reduce or eliminate the diversion of maintenance dollars to construction.
For the future, without new or enhanced current revenue sources, the recent analysis by the GAO, “Another Look at Federal Highway Funding” concludes that “highway users are not contributing sufficient amounts of general revenues into highway or transit funding . General revenue transfers were 35 percent of FHWA’s budget for 2009 and 2010. In other words, given limited Federal dollars, other budget priorities will suffer because highway funding is increasingly reliant on those dollars, and new sources for other programs are without effective advocates in Congress or in the states.
Delegate Scott represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at [email protected]