VA officials approve $18.6B transportation spending program
The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board has approved a six-year, $18.6 billion improvement program that will fund more than 3,600 state transportation projects, according to Equipment World.
The program will begin on July 1 and span categories like maintenance ($1.6 billion), public-private partnerships ($3.9 billion) and the state's Smart Scale program ($2.1 billion).
- Of the funds, $15.2 billion will go toward highway construction, $3.4 billion for rail and public transportation and $2.6 billion for public transportation projects, with $817 million for rail initiatives.
Virginia joins other states like California that have recently committed to massive funding programs to upgrade or repair their state's existing transportation infrastructure. This year, California lawmakers passed a $52 billion funding program to repair state highways, bridges and other public assets.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, about 50% of California roads are in poor condition, and the state itself estimates that it has a $130 billion backlog of infrastructure repairs. The huge state initiative will be helped along by a 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, along with a new annual vehicle license fee.
Indiana also committed to updating and maintaining its highway infrastructure system, enacting a seven-year, $5 billion program. Like California's initiative, Indiana's program will be funded by a gas-tax increase — 10 cents per gallon the first year and another 1 cent-per-year increase for seven years — in addition to other motorist fees. State officials said they would also look to increase toll revenue from of out-of-state drivers.
In March, the Texas Transportation Commission announced that it had authorized an $8.9 billion spend to complete 230 state highway projects, including a $3 billion overhaul of Interstate 45 around Houston.
According to an ASCE report earlier this year, the cost of U.S. infrastructure needs through 2025 is $4.6 trillion, which is $1 trillion more than the last ASCE report in 2013. In the report, the association also gave the U.S. an overall infrastructure grade of "D+." Across 16 infrastructure categories, the U.S. scored highest in rail ("B"), although most infrastructure elements scored below the "C" range.
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