What You Need to Know About Transportation Funding
(Updated October 2011)
1) Virginia operates the nation’s third largest state highway network with 68,000 miles and 12,000 bridges. Only Texas and North Carolina have bigger systems.
2) Virginia's highway network is aging and in a growing state of disrepair. VDOT's latest pavement surface analysis finds that 19.7 percent of Virginia's interstate lane miles and 22.4 percent of its primary roads lane miles have poor or very poor pavement surfaces. More alarming is the fact that 35.2 percent, or 27,808, of Virginia's 79,000 lane-miles of secondary road pavements are deficient.
3) Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) for construction is being depleted by mainenance needs. State law requires maintenance needs be met first. Since 2002, nearly $4 billion in Transportation Trust Fund construction dollars have been shifted to maintenance because Virginia's Highway Maintenance and Operations Fund is inadequate to meet Virginia's highway maintenance needs.
4) Virginia has nation’s 11th lowest gas tax at 17.5-cents per gallon. (Northern Virginia also pays 2% gas tax to support public transit.)
5) Since last transportation tax increase (1987), miles of travel have increased by 79%, registered vehicles by 61%, licensed drivers by 36%, and population by 30% while miles of state roads have increased by only 9% and purchasing power of the transportation dollar has declined by 40%. Most new roads added to the state highway system are subdivision streets.
6) Northern Virginia has added more than 1,000,000 people in the last 25 years and more vehicles than people.
7) Demand on Northern Virginia’s network will continue to increase. In the next 25 years, Northern Virginia is projected to add 350,000 households (43%), 651,000 jobs (53%) and 918,000 people (42%).
8) Only 25% of all transportation funds go to new road construction. Maintenance consumes 50% of funds with the balance to operations (8%), debt service (8%) and transit/ports/airports (8%).
9) A constitutional amendment protecting the Transportation Trust Fund from being diverted to the General Fund will not protect construction dollars being diverted to maintenance and thus will not solve the problem. The TTF and HMOF should be separate with no transfers allowed. This would stop the drain on the TTF and force the General Assembly to fund maintenance.
10) Public-private partnerships (PPTA/s) are not enough. Private firms will only build new roads that can make a profit. Since most transportation projects are not profitable, PPTA options are limited. Most PPTAs requires some public funds. Virginia currently lacks funds to support an aggressive PPTA program. At best, PPTAs are estimated to be capable of meeting 20% of Virginia’s needs.
11) Changing the allocation formula will make little difference. Virginia's allocation formula has not existed for several years due to lack of adequate funds. However, in the past most transportation funds did not go through a formula. Reinstating and changing the formula might produce $25 million more per year for Northern Virginia, but would hardly dent our $500 million annual shortfall.
12) The need for new, sustainable transportation revenues is well documented. After 25 years, its time for the Virginia General Assembly to produce the new long-term funding Virginia's transportation program needs.