McDonnell Calls on Senate to Pass Roads Funding

The governor visited Fairfax County on Monday to rally support for his transportation bill, promising some money to reduce fees on the Dulles Toll Road.

Gov. Bob McDonnell made a stop in Northern Virginia on Monday afternoon to urge locals to push their representatives to support his divisive transportation-funding package, which the state Senate is scheduled to vote on again Tuesday.

The governor said his proposal, , would raise about $3 billion for road and transit improvements over the next five years. The bill would eliminate the state’s 17.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax and raise the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent.

The House last week amended their version of the bill, eliminating a $100 alternative vehicle fee for owners of hybrid cars and prohibiting tolls on I-95 south of Fredericksburg.

Senate Republicans offered their own amendments to the bill, including proposals to raise the gas tax to 5.5 percent or even 8 percent. But Senate Democrats shot down both ideas.

In his statement, delivered at the administration headquarters for the Dulles Toll Road, McDonnell lamented the Senate vote, calling it a “terribly partisan result.”

McDonnell stressed the bill’s passage would raise $300 million that would go directly towards relieving the projected soar in toll prices when construction begins on Phase II of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.

“I’ve seen a lot of plans come and go in Richmond, and I will say that this is as close as we have been to getting a long-term, sustainable funding plan in place,” he said, emphasizing that something had to be done this session.

“The time for politics is over,” he said. “We’ve only been talking about it now for 20 years. This is the time for action.”

Jim Corcoran, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said the $300 million for toll relief would be critical to the ongoing redevelopment of Tysons Corner, a massive project that will benefit the entire state.

“For this to continue to grow, for entrepreneurs to continue to build business here, we have to get this passed,” Corcoran said.

Jack Potter, president of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the $300 million would decrease prices on the toll road by about 50 to 60 cents per trip in today’s dollars. He also said MWAA had already voted to increase tolls – currently $2.75 per trip – to $3.50 in 2014, and that they were expected to reach $6.75 by 2019.

Potter guaranteed the $300 million in the governor’s bill would go directly towards lowering tolls, and said any other money from the state or federal government would as well.

“Any money that comes to us will go to the roll road and to mitigating tolls,” Potter said.

McDonnell said he had been in contact with Senate Democrats over the weekend, particularly Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th), and that he was optimistic about reaching some sort of compromise.

“I’m encouraged,” McDonnell said.

The governor even admitted he might be open to a bill that combined the two approaches, such as a reduced reliance on the gas tax and a smaller sales-tax hike.

“We could talk about that,” he said.

But he also said any plan he would consider approving would have to raise an amount of similar to the $845 million his current proposal is expected to generate.

McDonnell was strongly opposed to a bill relying solely on the gas tax, which he called a “declining revenue source.”

“I’m not going to sign a $1 billion tax increase,” he said.

Before compromises could be made, McDonnell said the bill first had to pass the Senate.

“We’re on the 40 yard line, maybe even the 30,” he said. “I want to get it over the goal line.”

For more on Gov. McDonnell's transportation bill, see below:

  • Governor’s Transportation Plan Hits Roadblock
  • McDonnell's Transportation Bill Moves Forward
  • Speak Out: Will McDonnell's Tax Plan Help Virginia?
Rob Whitfield February 13, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Virginia and MWAA are not the main problem with Dulles Rail. The Governor has failed to demand accountability from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. The public and media must investigate potential long term costs to Virginia taxpayers of the grossly mismanaged WMATA. WMATA's Board has repeatedly failed to adopt prudent financial plans to fund most of the projected $13.3 billion in capital replacement cost needs by 2020 for the original 103 mile Metrorail system. Last month WMATA's Board refused to propose raising Metrorail fares in the next fiscal year to help cover increased costs projected. Instead they expect taxpayers to increase the subsidies for this habitually mismanaged authority. WMATA will experience substantial increased costs associated with its capital improvement program -much of it required because of long deferred safety and maintenance items. The pre-opening costs of Phase 1 of the Silver Line may add $200 million or more to the WMATA budget. WMATA has failed to make long overdue investments in upgraded traction power substations and expanded ingress and egress facilities at Washington DC stations. This will result in more overcrowding on Orange Line trains and Arlington County and DC stations due to the inability of WMATA to operate more 8 car trains. WMATA has not explained why Dulles Toll Road users should pay most costs of a proposed Dulles maintenance facility, designed mostly for Series 7000 railcars to be used elsewhere.
Bob Bruhns February 18, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Bad information is a problem. Cost of upgrade to all 8 car Metro trains: $6 Billion per 2/1/2013 news media report. http://oakton.patch.com/articles/metro-momentum-offers-expansive-plans-for-system-s-future (See paragraph 16.) $2 Billion per 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report. http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/Momentum_Strategic_Plan_2013-01-28-secure.pdf (See 'Cost Estimate' on page 30.) I believe that the $6 Billion figure was accidentally picked up from page 29 of the 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report, where the $2 billion 8-car upgrade number was the first line item on the list that added up to the projected $6 Billion shown on that page. I submit that this demonstrates exactly why we must maintain transparency in the estimates - NOBODY KNOWS what this upgrade should cost, and reporters studying the project made a 200% error. If official estimators were to happen to make a similar 200% error, then we could wind up paying three times what we should on this project. We agreed to pay two times what the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project should have cost - so a three to one price excess here is quite possible. Should the price estimators be unchecked? Or should the public have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal? I'd say the proper response would be that the public should have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal. No?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »