By Destiny Brandon, Capital News Service
Northern Virginia would get a bigger share of the state’s highway maintenance funds under legislation being sponsored by Oakton's Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Oak Hill).
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.”
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 Minchewof Leesburg, and Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn of Springfield.
Republican Delegates Scott Garrett of Lynchburg and Ed Scott of Culpeper voted against the measure.
The Virginia Department of Transportation currently divides the state into nine districts. But under LeMunyon’s bill, if a district represents 25 percent of all the vehicle miles traveled in Virginia, for example, 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.”
Tamara Rollison, communications division administrator for VDOT, said “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's plan to provide more than $3.1 billion in transportation funding for Virginia over the next five years passed a House committee on Wednesday.
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.
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