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Road project funding close to running dry in Virginia

The public outcry over tolls planned for the Downtown and Midtown tunnels has illuminated a harsh reality: The state is nearly tapped out of money to build roads.

As a result, state and local leaders are searching for solutions to a transportation funding crisis that has put Virginia on course to run out of money for new construction in five years.

At the urging of Hampton Roads mayors, the leaders of some of Virginia's largest cities will meet in a summit next month to discuss the challenges and to find a unified voice to address these issues with legislators.

State officials, meanwhile, now know that a proposed $5.50 to $11 toll on cars to fund a new U.S. 460 won't fly. So they've announced a restructured financial plan to possibly cut the tolls nearly in half and start construction early next year.

"The Midtown Tunnel project became the poster child for the notion that the commonwealth desperately needs a sufficient, sustainable, reliable revenue stream for transportation needs," Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said. "It's been neglected for way too long."

The state gas tax, a primary funding source, has not been raised in 25 years. Efforts to raise the sales tax and dedicate it to transportation have failed.

Meanwhile, maintenance costs for an aging road system are eating deeper into the transportation budget at a time when mega-road projects are needed to ease growing congestion.

Sean Connaughton, Virginia's secretary of transportation, says that if nothing is done, money left for new projects will be gone by 2017 or 2018.

City mayors and county chairmen from what's known as the Golden Crescent region along Interstates 64 and 95 between Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia will hold an unusual summit in Henrico County on June 5.

"We believe our regions working together can effectively influence the General Assembly to address the transportation crisis," an invitation from the Hampton Roads Mayors and Chairs Caucus stated.

Fraim expects that the group will need to gather more than once to identify the shared concerns and develop a consensus on a strategy.

"Local government leaders are ready to take a strong stance," he said.

Local leaders talked Thursday at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization's annual retreat about getting details of the funding crisis out to the city councils and the public to help spur action.

TPO staff presented numbers to illustrate the depth of the need:

To raise enough money for a $1 billion project that has 50,000 daily users would require either a $4.30 toll; a 9.6 cent regional gas-tax increase; a 0.5 percent regional sales-tax increase; or a combination of a $1.45 toll, 3 cent regional gas tax hike and 0.2 percent regional sales tax increase.

The price tags for the bridges and tunnels needed in Hampton Roads run in the multibillions.

"Citizens here are more reactive" than proactive, said Thomas Shepperd, chairman of the York County Board of Supervisors. "We're not doing a good job of advertising the problem because Joe and Jane Citizen doesn't seem to understand the problem."

"Until citizens give the legislators support and coverage, it will be hard for them to vote for something they think citizens don't want," said Shep Miller of Norfolk, a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Voters and legislators have resisted raising taxes, which is why the state has turned to the public-private partnerships to build big projects such as the expansion of the Midtown Tunnel.

Elizabeth River Crossings, in partnership with the state, will begin construction later this year on a parallel Midtown tube, improvements to the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels, and extending the Martin Luther King Freeway. Tunnel tolls will start at $1.84 during rush hour beginning in January 2014.

The next local public-private project in the pipeline is rebuilding U.S. 460 on a new alignment as a limited access highway to provide relief to Interstate 64 and the harbor bridge-tunnels, encourage economic development, provide better access to the ports and improve hurricane evacuation.

Three private proposals for the 55-mile project put tolls at $5.50 to $11 for cars and as much as $75 for tandem tractor-trailers.

"If we don't keep the tolls low, people simply won't use it, and it ends up the investment potentially would not be worth it," Connaughton said. Unlike the Midtown Tunnel, there would be free alternatives to the toll road, including I-64 and the existing U.S. 460.

The state's analysis shows that for the first 10 to 15 years, not enough cars and trucks would use the road to even cover the debt payments, said Dusty Holcombe, deputy director of the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships.

The state has committed $500 million in transportation funds and as much as $250 million in state port funding to the project, which is expected to cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

"We don't want to invest this type of money if it's not going to provide relief to I-64," Connaughton said.

So instead of a traditional public-private deal, the state announced last week a new structure that would cut the cost of financing the project, thereby lowering the toll to more like $3.85 to $5.50 for cars and triple that for trucks.

In the new arrangement, the private company selected to build the project would also help secure funding, but the debt would then be transferred to a newly created nonprofit corporation so no private equity, or profit on equity, would be required.

Costs would be reduced further by having VDOT maintain responsibility for operations and maintenance. Additionally, the highway department would set toll rates and increases.

Holcombe said it's the first time the state will tackle this kind of modified public-private partnership.

The three private proposers will have to submit new plans based on this approach by September. The schedule shows a contract would be finalized with one of them by the end of the year, and construction would begin next year. The project would be complete and tolls would begin in 2018.

Debbie Messina, 757-446-2588, debbie.messina@pilotonline.com

Posted to: News Traffic - Transportation Tunnels

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One good idea

Do not sell our roads and tunnels to foreign companies would be good for a start.If you knot heads in Richmond would put the money you get from taxes in the proper funds they are designated to go, we may not be in this situation.

The reason is avarice. There is no answer to it.

It begins at a much higher level than the White House and filters down to local government.

The people are broke, companies are broke, local, state and federal governments are broke. The future is not bright. Things could get quite bleak.

Neither the R or D have "the" answer. It is almost to the point where there is no answer. Oh sure, things could be done but they won't. It goes back to the extreme greed and the control they wield.

The roads? It may be in a short time that all that travels them are the likes of Mad Max.

Beans, bullets and band-aids will be the currency of the future.

Another Stimulus Plan?

Why not ask Barack Obama for another stimulus plan? We all know how well that worked out for everyone!!

bwahahahahaha

I sense sarcasm in your tone of voice...stimulus, hahaha, actually makes me chuckle!

Stimulus Bill?

A stimulus bill is probably to erotic for this region . . .

Perfect understanding.

"We're not doing a good job of advertising the problem because Joe and Jane Citizen doesn't seem to understand the problem."

The local politicians put all their schemes in a nonnegotiable list of projects with no input from the public. They then tried to ram unconstitutional taxes down our throats. The local politicians push pet projects over public needs, resulting in tax payer revolts. Next the local politicians are fronting foreign ownership of public property while acid tripping on 2040 Beach rainbows instead of facing reality. And you bureaucrats up in Richmond think we don't understand the freaking problem? The public refuses to fund any project because of a lack of trust. They understand what's going on better than you do.

There has to be another way

A toll booth at those places would be catastrophic; the jams are already unbearable at rush hour as it stands. If every registered driver paid a flat fee of 12 bucks per vehicle a year it could work. But no one all ever pays. There are exclusions and waivers so that only the hard working pay. The state should fund some more anti fraud specialists at 100k a year for salary and benefits and use them to recoup the losses we have to the slime balls making millions off graft and illegal activities. A team of ten at that cost would save tenfold in loss. Yet, it won't happen. Too many on the take to have a bigger group looking after them. Right now, there are many dirt balls sending in fraudulent claims bilking thousands from the state.

Makes you wonder

If a major hurricane approaches, how fast will they get traffic through those toll plazas when cities are told to evacuate. Then the after math when they want reparations from the state for the loss of revenue for letting cars get through for free or they will use those cameras and charge that fee + penalties. I would bet on the latter and then ask for reparations for loss of revenue from the tax payers knowing how this system is set up.

Wishful thinking

I like to think that they would lift the toll, in the event of a hurricane evacuation...but then again, welcome to Hampton Roads!

EZ pass

I believe the toll plaza will be unmaned it is just there to take EZ pass and pics if you dont have a EZ pass. So now you just give your credit card number to ERC and TRUST that the charges are correct, and/or get a bill in the mail with a pic and a 3.00 charge plus the toll fee. All of this is a crock of mess and some one needs to be fired.

That is going to be really

That is going to be really bad for people traveling from outside the area that don't have an ez pass. The word gets out and the tourist will find some place else to vacation, instead of being fined for a bad set up that does not allow at least one manned booth.

Also really bad

for poor people without credit cards that need to commute. At very least, there needs to be a cash option and a reasonable toll, say one dollar.

I am far from poor

And I don't have a credit card. I am buying one of those photo blocking license plate clear covers to avoid the toll.

I'm not even doing that

Instead I will travel south only on 17 and instead of spending money in VB and Norfolk only spend it in Portsmouth Chesapeake and Suffolk. If I ever need to use the tunnel I will just ignore the bill and then challenge the whole toll scheme in court when taken there and force the State to expose the fraud they perpetrated on us, and force them to justify every expense in the budget, lol.

In reality though I can live without Virginia Beach and Norfolk, so no money from me

Too much money going into

Too much money going into housing costs. Free up that income into discretionary income. More spending that is spread past banks.

I think this whole road thing could be done cheaper. Figure out where the huge costs are, automate and improve processes.

What would you suggest?

What would you suggest? Government placed limits on housing? Is that your idea?

Tollbooth Bob

Tollbooth Bob wants to privatize all the roads in Virginia and turn them into toll roads. Less government, more private industry!

Options

Maybe increase the state inspection fee?
Include a road usage tax when applying for registration at DMV, as Louisiana does.
Maybe get back to the city tax/sticker?
Charge for HOV lane usage, so 1 occupant can travel?

No stickers

I still pay for that , I just don't get a sticker now.

The whole point of the HOV

The whole point of the HOV lane is to discourage the single passenger auto. We recognize we cannot support the highways and therefore have taken steps in hopes of avoiding a catastrophic failure of the system. To throw the towel in would just be passing the problem down the road into the very near future.

Lemmings in the GA pledging to plutocrats is the problem

Their pledge to Grover Norquist, a pledge that apparently supersedes their oath of office, are doing a disservice to our great State.

What we need is a raise in the gas tax specifically for roads, bridges, tunnels and infrastructure.

We need to demand that these "representatives" honor their oaths of office and do the bidding of their constituants, not billionaire plutocrats.

Or else they will get a transrectal boot out of office when the next election rolls around.

I disagree with raising the gas tax and here is why...

Not everyone drives but that will drive up the cost of everything for everyone while affecting those who drive more so than those who don't. A small raise in the SALES TAX that is earmarked specifically for roads in this region with lying politician-proof language will fairly tax everyone equally because everyone gets the benefit of the roads whether they use them or not. Those who drive further should not be taxed more for the need to do so.

politician-proof language

There is no such thing. Politicians make the rules, AND can change them at will. Even amending the constitution is no guarantee of keeping prying political fingers out of the money pie. They merely re-word an amendment's enabling legislation and administrative rules to get what they want. Look at school funding and the lottery.

You make a good point, Stevem98160, however...

I still feel that an increase in the sales tax in this region with specific language that it is only to be used for road projects in this region is a better answer than increasing the fuel tax. The fuel tax is going to affect truckers and trucking companies the most and thus increase the price of everything else for everyone as a result. A small raise in the sales tax will be felt by all equally.

Truckers?

Since the state is going to make all this money on Panamax ships, which will mostly be supported by trucks hauling containers, then added diesel taxes is merely a cost of increased business profits.

Tolls are Taxes

2002 it was voted down for tax increase for roads. Silence until now when the State figured out that VDOT wasn't doing their job in taking care of the bridges and tunnels. with the Panama Canal opening,more cargoships will enter our port. McD needs to "reconstruct" a new contract for the Midtown and downtown tunnel since it has been noticed that people don't want private partnership being outsourced to do the job vdot was supposed to be doing.Personally, i think there needs to be some changes in the DOT and get people into those positions that care about the public wants and needs. We The People do not want tolls when our taxes were to go for these projects. Why such a rush to spend the money? Get trucks out of the Port.Let VPA pay for it.

Just a reminder: In 2002 it was voted down because the liars in

office would not include specific language that stated that the funds raised by increasing the SALES TAX, not gasoline tax, in the Hampton Roads region could only be used for road projects in the Hampton Roads region. I voted against it because the liars in office wouldn't add that line to the bill. That bill would have been akin to giving a thief your checkbook, debit card, the keys to your car and your home and then softly admonishing them to behave.

Go ahead and put the tolls up. I will go around or, if I'm forced to ride through a tolled tunnel, I will do so at the most leisurely, traffic-inducing pace possible. The deal with ERC stinks to high heaven and if its enacted, pack your bags GA and Gov!

lol

Virginia is the best managed state?

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Virginis is for Losers, not lovers.

What did S.Connaughton say?

*"If we don't keep the tolls low, people simply won't use it, and it ends up the investment potentially would not be worth it," Connaughton said. Unlike the Midtown Tunnel, there would be free alternatives to the toll road, including I-64 and the existing U.S. 460.* The midtown and downtown project is holding us as Toll hostages. But they have figured out other alternatives for the 460 and 64 projects by nonprofit private partnerships. Is this idea off the profit from the few paying tolls that the money would go toward other road projects. Richmond needs listen to the people - 10,000 signatures say no tolls. That should be enough for our elected officials to do something. Vote all existing politicians out! We need real change. We The People

non profit who?

I bet the same private partnership skanska will be getting the 460 and 64 project also. Just an other name but still the same. This was a done deal back in 2004 win the bid was placed, when it was tidewater skanska. so many people saying so many things and each putting the blame on the citizens and not on their own selves for their part in all this chaos. VaB will have the skanska Tide, not tolls put back on norfolk/va beach expressway to help pay for the bridges/tunnels that they would need to get citizens out of that area.If Connaughton would put the toll back on the expressway they would have the money.Norfolk and VAB each is twice as big as portsmouth in number of people on the roads.an idea that would work if they'd get out of bed.

existing 460- make it 5 lanes

Don't know why anyone thinks that 460 needs a new by-pass, just widen the existing to 5 lanes.

Make it five lanes and do

Make it five lanes and do something to fix the slowdowns in the small towns. VDOT -- and our local transportation organizations always have to build the biggest solutions; they can't just fix the problem. They only look at tunnels for our crossings. Perhaps there are cheaper ways to cross the river than tunnels. I've always said that if VDOT had funded an inexpensive five mile per year expasion of I64 starting 25 years ago when they first said 64 needed to be expanded, it would be all finished by now. But they can only think in total project and not in small pieces. We've been talking about these problems for well over 20 years and because of the VDOT philosopy have done nothing.

How the money that would have maintained/operated the Midtown?

The ERC agreement frees VDOT of maintenance and operation expenses of the Midtown and Downtown Tunnels for 58 years. This money, which also includes payroll for 100 jobs and over billion dollars alone in projected inflation of maintenance costs, minus the relative pittance paid toward reducing & delaying tolls at these tunnels, needs to be spent on another project HERE.

Either VDOT is hiding where they actually want to spend this new revenue stream created at the expense of Hampton Roads commuters, or we were just a couple years away from closing both tunnels for lack of funding. Maybe getting them tolled was VDOT's only way to avoid admitting how much they have mortgaged HR's future to pay for a decade of toll-free megaprojects in NoVa.

Hello

My name is Jane citizen and not only can I read I can add. My problem with this whole thing is A. What will my taxes go to? and B. I am paying twice for the same thing. VA needs to do one or the other either close VDOT and outsoure all the roads or do it themselves. In short I will pay taxes for VDOT to do nothing and pay a toll for ERC to get fat. For the next 58 years not only will I pay taxes I will also pay tolls so tell me how that is okay? Then the cherry on top ERC will make a 20 billion dollar profit off the tunnel tolls that cost 2 billion to build. That money DOES NOT go back into our roads it goes in the pockets of ECR. With that kind of profit VDOT would have not problem with road money.

The reality of all

this is we will pay tolls and before long pay higher taxes also. Its time to vote out all the delegates and start over.

And who are you going to

And who are you going to replace them with? What we really don't want is a legislature that all belongs to a single party. My view is that real problem solvers don't beome politicians.

So how is it that gas in NC is about same in VA?

Our state is at 17 cts/gal and NC is at 38 cts/gal as of Jan 2012: http://www2.nbc17.com/news/2012/jan/02/10/2012-brings-higher-gas-tax-state-north-carolina-ar-1771215/

But something is going on dynamically because look at the prices in NC and here in VB. There's a weak correlation between the tax and the price. WTH??????

http://www.raleighgasprices.com/
http://www.virginiabeachgasprices.com/

NC drivers complained about it inititally when the tax increase went into effect in January, but the prices now are about the same as anywhere else. Why? We may need a new economic term describing the change in taxes and a resulting change in quantity of a product demanded. Theres no such term for it now. Maybe it depends on what the product is.

Apples to Oranges

Different regions. You could also go to Florence, SC and pay 30 cents less, but the tax has nothing to do with it. Fact is, if you head South on 95, the gas prices are about 20 cents higher on the NC side of the boarder. Then they drop well below even VA when you get to the SC side. I go down to Hilton Head every year. I always fill up in Isle of Wight County, which gets me to Florence, SC, which gets me back to Florence on the way home after an excursion to Savannah, GA. Well, point is I plan my trip around getting gas in NC because prices are way higher there than in VA or SC.

Granted, different regions

Granted, different regions can be different. But in comparing VA to NC, why should Emporia and Roanoke Rapids be the same?

It's called taxes. Get used to it.

Gas taxes, property taxes, road usage taxes (i.e., tolls). Whatever taxes. To the decades of irresponsible leaders in this area and the head-in-the-ground citizens who think that roads build themselves without funding, I convey these hackneyed cliches: the chickens have come home to roost. You're reaping what you've sewn. And it's time to pay the piper.

Many of the roads in this area are deplorable and the tunnels are inadequate for the volume of traffic they carry. But that's not new. It's been that way for at least seven years, and in that time no new major construction projects have begun. Why? Lack of funds. So what's been done to generate the requisite funding? Nothing. Why not? Because taxes are bad!

Live with it.

I have no intention of

I have no intention of living with it. This state, like MD, is run by folks who either cant/won't manage, or are interested in preserving the status quo rather than meeting needs ahead of the curve. You live with it. I wont. The govt should be laid off//start again.

Question for the Masses

Ok people,
I'm going to ask a question and I don't want to hear about "my taxes are to high" or I don't want to pay that toll. We all know that something has to be done about our roads. We are not going to be able to get around it soooooo.

a)Who wants a gas tax?

b) Who wants tolls?

there is not (c), it's one or the other

I Pic A Gas Tax

Well...

There really is a "C" - Gas taxes that are sufficient to cover construction and operational costs and a reasonable toll to help pay for NEW construction.

Personally, I would have no problem with a $1 toll each way on the MTT (which I take daily), but the DTT should not be tolled to pay for it.

VIRGINIA ROADS PROJECTS

1. Did Virginia use all federal stimulus money before it expired? We lagged behind most other states for a long time. Then, after the media broadcast it, the governor stepped up roads projects. How do we fare now?

2. Higher taxes do not mean better roads. The money is not earmarked for roads. It goes to the general pot. Legislators like using it for other purposes. Bills designed to earmark taxes for roads have been shot down.

The State has not made it

The State has not made it easy to decipher. The statewide information as to how they chose to use stimulus funds is not shown in table format, but only by graph at http://www.arra.virginia.gov/. The State of Virginia chose in its infinite wisdom to allocate less than 10% of its stimulus funds for transportation projects - unlike its neighbors. Virginia chose to use its funds not for capital improvements but for 1-time operating fund supplements in the areas of Health & Human Services, Education and Commerce & Trade. While those are worthy areas, it is not financially prudent to use 1-time stimulus funds for annual recurring expenditures. How did the State expect to pay the piper for those recurring expenses in subsequent years? Foolish!!

Before raising taxes, lockbox fuel taxes

We would not have this problem if we did not skim 5% off the top of our State fuel taxes to subsidize the Port of Virgina, which should be paying its own way, and 15% of our State fuel taxes, and 40% of Federal Fuel taxes, to subsidize Transit and Light Rail projects.

The user fees we have paid for decades have been plundered for other uses for political purposes. They are "borrowed" for other purposes, and then repaid with "FRANS" which are basically IOU's against future Federal funds we would have gotten anyway.

So, lets call those debts and and think about tax increases AFTER the money we have already paid for roads is returned to those purposes.

If anyone is surprised by

If anyone is surprised by this story, they have not been paying attention. Further, while this story focused on major projects like interstates, the same is true for local roads; the Legislature's failure to maintain and sustain an adequate funding source means that cities and counties will soon be subject to devolution and will not only get no money for construction from the state, they will get less and less for maintenance as well. But all the posters who support Delegates from our region who have refused to lead, and posters who now oppose the high tolls that will soon be the largest source of new revenue, should get ready to start paying tolls or fees from the time they leave their driveway, to when they return.

Stick a sock in it.

I have zero plans on paying tolls and taxes because Mike, I plan on taking up residence at one of your high end TOD areas. That's right, every morning you can count on tripping over my legs as I sleep on the sidewalk right outside your door. I'd even join you for lunch at a fancy place, except the rest of the old geezers will take up the prime outside window space. And you can count on me being in the seat next to you as your return home from 'work' on MY free to me light rail. If you are real lucky, I'll be clean and fresh from a dip in the Elizabeth River. After all, I'm not from NYC.

Finally

"Until citizens give the legislators support and coverage, it will be hard for them to vote for something they think citizens don't want"

By golly at least someone gets it. If it requires tax hikes or tolls, we don't want it, any of it. Instead of endless studies and consultants, spend your money to pave and maintain the roads we already have.

costs have gone up while revenue has gone down

The last time the gas tax was raised we were complaining about dollar a gallon gas. Now we are happy that gas is under $4. In this time asphalt has increased in price by more than 10 times its cost and concrete has almost tripled. Fleet fuel mileage has gone from 14 MPG to almost 26 and the number of cars has more than doubled, meaning we need more lane miles just to keep trafic congestion the same.

And all of this because people insist on driving vehicles the size of small houses weighing more than 2 tons to move a single person a distance that would be easily covered on a bicycle, if it was safe to ride one. 90% of trips made in this country are single-occupant with a third less than 5 miles round trip, why use more vehicle than needed?

Srsly

So.. If I am understanding correctly, the funds We The People have paid have not gone where they were supposed to go, VDOT mismanagement riddled with decades of fraud charges (from the top down to suppliers and subcontractors) has not been rectified or even addressed, we're glad-handing foreign entities and We The People are just too stupid to understand all this confusing road stuff? Thanks, glad to know that now I don't have to worry my pretty little head about it.

good point

I remember a few years ago when a regional director of VDOT failed to do her job in regard to testing flood gates at the Midtown Tunnel before a major storm flooded that same tunnel. Was she terminated? Was she forced to resign? Oh no, in it's infinite wisdom this same totally incompetent person had a NEW POSITION CREATED FOR HER in Richmond. Something like this would never happen in the private sector, but it's an everyday thing when the people's money is involved.

Oh sure it would, are you

Oh sure it would, are you familiar with the Peter Principal?

NEW POSITION

Lead negotiator on MTT project.

$$$$$$

Don't worry. By then we'll have flying cars and won't need roads. Just check the tea-baggers websites. Who needs tax revenue? I'll pay for my own everything.

Battle cries of the inane

The minions are at it again:

http://goo.gl/4gRU3

How funny

Very persuasive Archie. It's such a great writing technique to slam and insult anyone who dares to disagree with your view of how things should be.

We could finance our

We could finance our transportation shortfall if we simply stopped incarcerating non-violent drug offenders. There are lots of sane solutions other than tolls or raising taxes.

i would agree with you but

The fact is the state taxes don't fund the jails, the jails are privately running and owned by ether a corporation or a person depending on the jail! But I highly agree that we are incarcerating people over some dumb crimes! You all need to look at the corruption in this state at the government level, I myself have seen it first hand and it is the worst I have ever seen! I trust pimps and drug dealers more than the local cops and government!

You're kidding, RIGHT???

I can't believe that with state sales tax, gas tax, personal property tax, and every other tax WE THE PEOPLE are forced to pay that our roads, tunnels and bridges look the way they do. The Commonwealth of Virginia needs an OUTSIDE agency to act as an "oversight committee" to see where the money we pay is going. What other town supervisors, city planners, city treasurers and mayors are giving themselves astronomical raises??? We don't put these people in office to get rich, but to represent WE THE PEOPLE............Fire the lot of them and let's start fresh!!!!

VDOT AT IT'S BEST

The only thing VDOT does well is waste taxpayer dollars. The bad news is it's never going to change, so about the only thing we can do is cut back on our personal budgets in order to pay the higher taxes needed to pay for the necessary repairs. For those of you who want to blame our current Republican Governor, you're right, and for those of you who want to blame our former Democrat Governor, you're right too.

we need to start looking at getting rid of this

Entire government body, and to say we just need to save up and take it is how they got so big and powerful! We need to stand up and demand a complete reorganization of well just about everything to tell the truth! I don't consider myself to be any type of person to do such a thing, unless you need a honest person with good morals, lol! I would say we need to have a public meeting with real voters and tax payers and reelect the hole body of government and start over! I would be there if someone would be good enough to organize it

Actually, in the context of

Actually, in the context of this issue, that is, highway funding, we should impeach those who serve in the House of Delegates, and start over. If this group were the board of a private corporation, the shareholders would have justifiction for bringing charges for financial malfeasance. They owe their allegiance to Grover Norquist, not to us, and they serve him, not the voters of Virginia. They have even stuck a poke in the eye of both McDonnell and Connaughton; makes no matter that they are republicans as well. They have treated republican Governors just as badly as they have treated Democratic ones. These bozos think they have served our interests; they are so remarkably out of touch with our needs they should resign immediately.

Just because you repeat this

Just because you repeat this hogwash over and over again doesn't make it true.

So many of these comments

So many of these comments say our leaders are failing us because (republicans) refuse to raise taxes to cover these problems. If you watched the talk shows this morning, Governor Warner also said over and over that we need to raise federal taxes to cover the out of control spending in Washington. In both cases this may be true, but just taxing the wealthy alone won't do it. While I doubt that we really need significant tax increases, what we really need is entitlement reform and a less complicated tax code. Too many receive federal and state benefits that they may not be warranted. Too much spending is wasted - VDOT always has to build the cadillac rather than just solve the problem. Let's build cheaper bridges instead of tunnels....

"Value Pricing" / "Congestion Pricing"

Tolls on I-264 DTT are being allowed by FHWA thru "Value Pricing"/"Congestion Pricing" program.

http://www.virginiadot.org/info/congestion_pricing.asp

http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/tolling_pricing/value_pricing/

"Congestion pricing is a type of tolling CREATED TO MANAGING TRAFFIC CONGESTION" "It’s important to note congestion pricing is NOT ABOUT COLLECTING MONEY. It's about GETTING COMMUTERS TO SHIFT THE TIME discretionary (work-related) trips, so severe traffic congestion can be reduced or eliminated."

I ask-HOW did VDOT/Virginia sell tolling the DTT to FHWA claiming it will shift commuter time and to what alternate route? By these standards ANY road could be tolled under the above program, call it "Freedom Pricing" or "Sucker Pricing"

So the majority of posters

So the majority of posters on this story continue to spout the republican play book; that is, we are taxed enough for transportation and if only VDOT were reformed we will have the infrastructure we need. This is the basic fairytale on which Governor McDonnell was elected. But the fact is, it is a total fabrication of the truth, and if most citizens continue believe this, then I fear for the future of our Commonwealth, our Port, our cities and counties, and our businesses. How VDOT could be expected to sustain our infrastruture with the same fuel tax rate we had in 1987 is beyond me. Further, the truth is the Governor knows of the deplorable condition of our infrastructure, but with Speaker Howell in charge, McDonnell is powerless.

Budgets?

NC can maintain their roads on a 20 Billion dollar budget.

VA can't maintain their roads on a 43 Billion dollar budget.

What??? NCDOT Budget just

What???

NCDOT Budget just under $4 billion (http://www.ncdot.gov/about/structure/)
VDOT Budget before one time GARVEE bond proceeds under Gov McDonnell just over $3.7 billion
(http://www.virginiadot.org/VDOT/About_VDOT/asset_upload_file786_41323.pdf)

Add to that the fact that 5% of VDOT's budget goes to Virginia's ports.

Please, tell the whole story

Please, tell the whole story if you are going to post a statistic. Fact is, Virginia has fourth largest road system in the nation to maintain with one of the lowest fuels tax rate in the nation. Further, Virginia must maintain state and county roads, in many state like NC, state agencies only maintain state roads. As you know, NC has a tax rate about double ours, and it adjusts based upon inflation every year. So they have great roads, which we used to have, but don't anymore.

Solution to road funding

The problem is Virginia must maintain state and county roads, in many state like NC, state agencies only maintain state roads. The solution is obvious, Why is VDOT maintaining county roads?

20 Bil / 43 Bil Budget a "Little High"

I agree NC roads are better maintained than VA. I agree that although VA state gas tax is 17.5 cent and NC state gas tax is 35.2 cent but at the pump their gas cost maybe .05 cent more.

(http://www.virginiagasprices.com/Tax_Info.aspx Compare Gas tax, any state, any zip code, any city)

However The NC/VA 20 Billion / 43 Billion dollar budget is not what is listed on the following web sites. I think there may be a "decimal" out of place.

http://www.ncdot.gov/about/finance/
NC Finance & Budget

http://www.virginiadot.org/about/vdot_budget.asp
VDOT's Budget

http://www.virginiadot.org/VDOT/About_VDOT/asset_upload_file786_41323.pdf
VA Transportation Fund Budget June 2011

Get the story straight.

The entire budget of NC is 20 billion vs. 43 Billion for VA.

NC can maintain their roads but Va can't?

How many people need to tell

How many people need to tell you this is hogwash?

No matter how you package

No matter how you package those numbers, they're still bologna.

Roads are much better in NC

NC has much better roads and bridges than Virginia. I drive from Havelock, NC back to Virginia Beach every weekend. The difference in road quality between the states is obvious. I don't hit potholes until VA. Additionally, their gas prices are the same as Virginia even with a 30 cent increase in state taxes for infrastructure maintanence and expansion.

Absolute nonsense - both by

Absolute nonsense - both by multiples of 10 and comparisons. Citations?

Isn't it just awful trying

Isn't it just awful trying to convicne people who have views that are not consistent with yours that they are wrong!!! Imagine someone actually thinking that they don't need to pay more taxes.

Yes, I and others who

Yes, I and others who supported the Yes Campaign have been totally ineffective in warning of a crisis to come. But in the interim it came. The physical effects are obvious to those with a fourth grade education. Closed bridges, tunnels that leak, highways that are crumbling and failing, increased congestion and lines at choke points even in the Great Recession, road markings that have disappeared without replacements, and medians cut once or twice a summer, adding to the third would look of our interstates. Regretfully, citizens and voters who have been hoodwinked by the ideology of Grover Norquist and his minions have won the day. One can only hope that someday, things get so bad, that the truth can no longer be denied or repressed.

So we would rather be

So we would rather be hoodwinked by you? Parish the thought Mikey.

There may be some issues

There may be some issues with mismanagement of funds at VDOT, but the much larger problem is the funds they are allocated by the General Assembly and Governor are clearly insufficient to meet the Commonwealth's roadway transportation needs. Gasoline taxes must to be increased to an appropriate level, and steps taken to ensure those taxes are used only for roadway maintenance and construction needs. Other multimodal forms of transportation, including light rail, should be funded from other revenue sources. Light rail should be financed by taxes placed on urban oriented development that will create a need for this type of mass transportation. This applies at the local, state and federal levels.

Of course

Because the gas tax is not tied to inflation, population grows yes, and they also buy MORE gasoline! Raise the gas tax, not the tolls!

... and they create the need

... and they create the need for more roads & put more wear and tear on our existing roads and highways. There's no way that the increased volume of gas taxes alone (at a fixed rate) can pay for road costruction and maintenance cost with 17 years cost of inflation. Yes. We desparately need a gas tax increase just to tread water.

virtually all local

virtually all local politicians will tell you that we need continuing growth and economic development to sustain our infrastructure. New business and the associated popluation growth are essential to sustaining our area. So why do we need to raise taxes for more roads and tunnels if that growth pays for itself? In fact, our current situation is a pretty clear indicator that it doesn't pay for itself -- either that or the politicians are choosing to spend the increased revenues on other things. In either case taxpayers should not have to support growth than is sold as self sustaining. Politicians are masters at manipulating statistics.

How about $$$ for choo choo's?

Does the shortfall also include funding for light rail in Virginia Beach? Maybe we should ask U.S. Congress before Romney gets elected for our train to no where ?

But you do support regular

But you do support regular tax increases to support more roads? Is this correct?

How about........

How about they cut spending like the rest of us do when income comes up short?

And when you do spend how about using companies that are 100% American owned? Not foreign based ones like the upcoming new tunnel project. We keep wondering why things are like they are and we keep letting those in charge do the same stupid mistakes over and over.

They just replaced the

They just replaced the landmark bridge in San Francisco (not the Golden Gate, but the other one) with a replacement that was made in China. Seriously.

America teh fail.

Look in the mirror Ethan.

Look in the mirror Ethan. What do you contribute? Ask yourself honestly.

Yes they did

and they did it without raising the toll.

Road construction

Well, Virginia, you get what you pay for!! For over 20 years you have bought the Republican myth that you can have it all and it won't cost anything!! People don't like tolls and they don't want the gas tax raised (or anything else). Republicans love that.They promise no tax increases, etc. And it works. They get elected. And only gradually do the roads get worse so that when the crisis finally and inevitable occurs they can say that it didn't happen on their watch. Same song for education. Now the bill comes due. What is going to happen? My prediction is that nothing will happen except that the roads will get worse. So will education. Sorry, Virginia. BTW, don't move to NC. They are headed the same way.

Yes, state funding for K-12

Yes, state funding for K-12 has declined and now cities/counties must make up the difference or see a decline in quality of their school systems. In regard to Colleges and Universities, state support has declined as well, made up by tuitions so high many of our citizens are being priced out of the market. But hey, the 1% are doing just fine, taking long vacations, drinking fine european wine, hiring corporate tax expects to further reduce their tax liabilities. So there is a bright side to Romney/republican/McDonnell tactics and strategies.

yo..dude you are the 1%..LOL

How do you even say such things...as the 1% you have a good platform to dicscuss these issues but choose to hide behind the 1% stuff...you are the 1%...hey I got no problem with that ..I do have a problem with you not discussing the issue as "part" of the 1%. I am working to be the 1%. Hope to make it.

statewide Gas Tax

It should be a statewide gas tax, not just regional. The the rest of the state benefits from our roads whether they want to admit it or not. Tolls should only be placed on new roads and tunnels, not existing ones. That means an alternate route, not a redone existing one.

If the rest of the state doesn't want to help, place tolls on every single road in the state. Why should we help pay for theirs if they won't help with ours?

Statewide Gas Tax Benefits All

We have the port of virginia....APM and PMT. Cargo comes via ships, rail, and trucks. It services more than just Virginia. Vdot dropped the ball on taking care of our bridges and tunnels and now they are booohoooing about not money. Smart thinking is 1. reduce wages of vdot heads 2.forget their bonus and pension plans paid by tax payers 3. stop the building of not needed tunnels and use the money to repair what we have. 4. stop the spending by Richmond on vacations to sweden and overseas "vacations". 5. make richmond politicians be accountable for their mismanagement of our money. 6. No PPT contract that doesn't benefit "we the people". 10,000 signatures say NO to Tolls. Listen to us. End the done deal now that came in 2006 by Kaine.

Taxes should be collected wisely!

What does it cost to collect a toll? I don’t want my fuel to cost me 1 cent more, but it’s better than paying a toll. What does it cost to collect a fuel tax? We know full well that we have to pay for the road construction and repairs. We must collect the money in a responsible and efficient way. The cost to collect each dollar using tolls has to be enormous. Lets be smart about it!

Standard comments

As usual, there are those who insist that if only the gummint in Richmond allocated gas taxes to roads, everything would be all hunky-dory. For some reason, the possibility that maybe we DON'T have enough income to pay for road work never penetrates. When the Navy leaves and the port businesses go away due to traffic strangulation, these same poor folks will be wringing their collective hands and crying "But we didn't raise the gas tax! Why are these people leaving?"
Perhaps we should invest in horsedrawn wagon trains and stagecoaches, and everyone should have at least one riding horse in his back yard.

It's not a lack of revenue, it's a case of how bad it's used.

Ask yourself if these items are more important than eliminating bottlenecks: Hurricane evacuation gates, traffic cameras, electronic message boards, street lights on interstates, 1/10th mile marker signs, alternate route signs and the multitude of other un-needed projects that do not help ease the traffic problems. It's not a revenue problem, it's a reckless waste of revenue problem.

I traveled down I-95 from MD yesterday.

From the VA border for about 25 miles there is huge road work projects being done. There are huge flyovers at nearly ever exit being built. There is mile after mile of road widening being done. All these billions of dollars being spent and not a single toll booth in site. Then there is the MTT project that will only connect two of the areas major bottlenecks and add anohter tunnel beside the existing one without addressing the huge bottlenecks created by Hampton Blve and Brambleton. The MTT project will accomplish nothing except for padding the pockets of foreign company owners and the corrupt elected and appointed officials who bought off on these projects. Norfolk can now put the "Welcome to TOLL Island" sign at their city borders.

Tide Water to Toll Water

With future tolls being also added to the HRBT, the MMMBT, the JRB, -- and mayebe even the High Rise Bridge -- Just call us "Toll Water".

tolls to be added to 95 in va

In case you did not know....
"Virginia is the latest state along the I-95 corridor to get permission to add toll booths to collect fees to pay for upkeep of the Old Dominion State's portion of the federal highway."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/19/virginia-approved-to-add-tolls-on-interestate-5/#ixzz1vSS5df6X

VDOT is short on funds because they're not doing the obvious

And the obvious is...wait for it...increasing the gasoline and diesel taxes to accomodate for all the inflaction that has occurred since 1986, which was the last time it was increased. Maybe an increase to accomodate increased fuel economy since 1986 would be good as well.

The federal government and most state governments have the same problem as well with the gasoline tax. Inflation is a miserable bugger. But we end up paying a bigger hidden tax, anyhow, in all the extra automobile repairs (alignments, flat tires, etc.) resulting from poor, bumpy, potholed roads.

You get what you pay for. Governor Bob McTollbooth should wise up: increased fuel taxes mean lower, more palatable tolls as well.

Home To Roost

I find it ironic to read about Mayor Fraim and the other local career politicians crying about how bad the road funding is, when the problems have long existed, and things have only gotten worse during their tenures. The convenience of getting elected and avoiding the tough decisions are now coming to a head. Fact is, back in the 1990's, Hampton Roads had the political clout in the form of a Speaker of the House from Norfolk, and a Senate leader from Hampton, and yet, Hampton Roads could still only get meager finances for roads, while Richmond and NOVA made out. Part of the blame also goes to our HRPDC/TPO and people like Art Collins and Dwight Farmer, who perfected their Houdini impersonations, while getting nothing for this region.

Let's Take Our Coutry Back

Mayor Sessoms (R) and Gov McDonald (R) are just following the republican plan to use debt to force the government to shrink. Light rail will put us severely in debt and rob precious highway funds. But that’s ok because the Republican Party wants to take back the country - back to when we had to pay to pull our buggies on dirt roads. We didn’t have taxes then, just tolls. Besides, up north huge cost overruns for the 23 mile rail extension to Dulles AP has No Virginians talking about spreading the pain across VA; and down south the Charlotte light rail system with its huge cost overruns also has had a crippling effect on local highway funds. We just can’t be left out of the party. VA Beach votes republican. We’re smart people! Right?

But you did read the story

But you did read the story you are commenting on? Roads alone are sinking. You would need a tax increase to simply tread water, not swim. How dense are we as a people that they cannot absorb these basic facts? It is time to balance wants and needs.

It might be bareable to pay

It might be bareable to pay more taxes for road projects, if so much of our other tax money did not get completely wasted. Lets hear the heads of VDOT say their budget shortfall is so severe they are going to stop traveling to Asia and Europe on the taxpayer's tab under the guise of studying other country's transportation projects. Or lets see the State of Virginia state transportation crisis is so bad it is reconsidering whether it is fair to ask for a tax increase while it pays several thousand state employees over $100,000 a year.

*bearable

*bearable

Here is a solution...

Let's "sectionalize" highway funding. Map out the state into sctions by population and break up the fed. and state trans. funds like that, excluding any tolls or property taxes. Then, look at each area on its own. Something tells me there won;t be much funding to develop 460, unless it can be paid for with bales of hay or chickens. Furthermore, I doubt the people in NOVA will be so apt to demand more roads.

Our state government needs to understand that larger projects (HRT, etc.) need to wait. Wouldn't the money spent expanding mass transit be better sent improving existing roads and tunnels more people use? Not that mass transit is a bad idea, but the bottom line is the "cupboard is bare".

As far as gas taxes, how do VA's compare?

That is what we have been

That is what we have been doing for decades. You don't fail continuously and keep trying the same thing hoping for better results. We simply cannot maintain our current roads and continue to enlarge and build highways. We simply cannot afford it. We have to move on even though some of you will be doing so kicking and screaming.

ok...whats your plan?

I / we need to get to the airport ...to work...to New york...to DC and elsewhere now..not in 5 years...or 20 years ...I got a car...credit card and a business...I am sure you do as well....what is "your" plan?

Less of a plan and more of

Less of a plan and more of an obvious outcome. If you look at NYC as your model of running out of room to pave and having to quit roads you have your answer. Most detractors will point out we are not like NYC yet this is not the issue. NYC's experience can be applied to smaller demographics. So open up to alternative transportation and allow it to weave it's way into society. Leave the existing roads for needs and not wants. 20 years from now the world will look very different if some of you can quit being scared to change. Scared of change.

Mass transit instead of roads is where its at

Just imagine a shiny light rail train track and fancy boarding stations serviced by dirt roads with horse drawn carriages. This is what the future holds for roads once the rest of the $ is diverted to unproven mass transit Utopian projects. Light rail proponents tell us we can't pave our way out of the problem. Instead, they want us living on top of one another like sardines next to a light rail station in imaginary communities which have EVERYTHING to satisfy your mind, heart, body, & soul. Sounds great on the Jetsons but not anytime w/in the next 50 yrs. Autos will always be a part of the daily grind. Its more likely cars will take flight during that time vs. light rail proliferating to the point of it being as routine as a bus stop.

Build the roads and pay for them.

I acknowledge that the tolls are not the best way to pay for developing and maintaining the roadways but we don't have any other options that will pass the legislature.

Legislators from around the state are doing what is good for their district and saying to hell with the cities.

Perhaps the Urban areas of Virginia should secede and form one state and the rest of the state can go on their own.

Its a waste of time and money for people to be sitting in traffic every day. Its also just adding more pollution.

What I think most believe is that higher taxes will be wasted

I believe that most people in opposition to higher taxes (I am certainly one of them) is that most believe ( I do for sure ) is that when the taxes are raised, the raises, bonuses and waste will increase 10-fold leaving tons of money for roads, but much will be absorbed administratively....we want 100% bang for the buck, not handing out raises and buying unnecessary equipment and gadgets, new trucks ever year and so forth.....If I have to pay more tax I want 100% of it where it belongs and the rest of the money that was there to begin with spent on just that, not waste.....we all know it will happen though....The more you give the more they take, just my opinion of why it will never be enough.

You're up in NY, and no

You're up in NY, and no longer need to drive on our roads. Some of us still do. The bill collector's knocking at the door, and we need to pay for better roads.

Up in NY contemplating my return in the near future

There is a reason why I concern myself with your local issues.......I am contemplating a return to the area.

why is jordon bridge left off the list of PPV deals

Every time we hear of these PPV deals there is no or very litte reference to the Jordon Bridge PPV deal. The toll there is $2. I wonder why?

Well...

1) New bridge, not an already paid for one
2) Entirely private, not a PPV (no taxes to pay for it)
3) Alternate toll-free route (until the DTT/MTT deal anyway)

are you an advocate???

Hey you are not being up front on this....when you start defining stuff with words and resoultions and stuff you are backing away from the "real" issue....there is very little difference in the Jordon Bridge deal than "any" other PPV in the region. good ...bad or ..indifferent...it is the deal..the Jordon Bridge is a PPV just like the tunnel deal with Skanska. I support it but I also do not hide behind it.

Huh?

"Hey you are not being up front on this..." How do you figure on this? I realize that the "real" issue, as you put it, is that they state has ignored transportation issues for far too long, but selling off their responsibilities is NOT the way to address it. Neither is placing the citizens in a no-win situation, a la the MTT/DTT deal. Did I feel the Jordan Bridge was a good idea when originally started, yes. Did I feel that the toll there was a bit steep, again, yes. Do I think that the current problems solution should involve both an increase in the gas tax and reasonable tolls to support projects funded and maintained by the state, you guessed it, yes.

fun fact...photo in this story...

Hey I was there there were maybe 20 people at the demostration that this photo is shot. Just thought I would add some context to the story photo.

How come the citizens can't

How come the citizens can't chip in some money and get a guaranteed return of 13%?

Tolling the other tunnel to prevent people going around is criminal.

trucks

Studies nationwide have shown that heavy trucks, like tractor trailers, produce the majority of damage to roads, equal 30 cents of damage PER MILE driven.

Seeing that new trucks get 6 MPG, the BREAK EVEN taxes on diesel fuel should be $1.80/gallon... just to pay for the damage caused.

Current road diesel fuel tax, VA+Federal, is 44.7 cents/gallon.

Trucks

Sure that is easily said, but we all pay that tax as soon as the good the big trucks carry hit the market. Tax payers will always pony up the repair costs no matter who causes the damage.

Funding for roads in Virginia running dry

I know that this is a real problem. But I still feel uneasy about letting the governor and VDOT work on this. They must be setting up another public-private partnership. With which nations?

No funding for pet projects is running dry

The taxpayers pay taxes to fund transportation (in fact, we pay transportation specific taxes to fund transportation). If Virginia isn't using those funds for transportation, then that means they are not good stewards of the peoples money, and they need to be let go.

i.e. Hire people that can manage money rather than people like Riddick.

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