On April 3, Virginia made history as the General Assembly took the final step in approving comprehensive legislation that provides sustainable transportation funding for the Commonwealth, and particularly Northern Virginia. For the first time since 1986, the Commonwealth’s transportation coffers and much needed projects will be receiving the financial resources they require. This pivotal legislation would not have been possible without the leadership and determination of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).
Some, even members of his own party, have criticized the Governor’s efforts on this issue, but theirs is a short-sighted view. Gov. McDonnell went to bat for Northern Virginia businesses and citizens on transportation, and we are thankful for his courageous leadership.
For years, sustainable transportation funding has been the number one priority of the Northern Virginia business community. Businesses and citizens in Northern Virginia have been suffering as a result of congestion on the roadways and lack of needed transportation improvements. We have been moving up the wrong lists, becoming the region with the most congested roadways, and going down the right ones, getting knocked out of our number one ranking as the best state in the nation to do business, specifically because of transportation issues.
The transportation package approved by the General Assembly offsets a looming transportation funding crisis that would have by 2019 or 2020 totally wiped out the state’s construction accounts to pay for maintenance, and funded no new projects. Thanks to the long-term transportation solution, new revenues will be generated from a variety of sources and all told will raise over $800 million annually, giving Virginia a real solution for our congested roadways. The solution means the creation of thousands of new jobs and that transportation projects across the Commonwealth will be jumpstarted, including much-needed investment in the Dulles Metro Rail Extension and the funds necessary to keep tolls from drastically rising on the Dulles Toll Road.
This landmark legislation is already paying off. As Moody’s Investors Services pointed out recently, Virginia has become “the first state to address stagnant gas tax collections that have been increasingly insufficient to meet transportation funding needs, a problem faced by many states as they, consumers and automakers embrace higher fuel efficiency standards.” It is likely, too, that some of those national surveys that recently dropped Virginia in the business-friendly rankings will also offer glowing reviews of the Commonwealth’s first real transportation plan in two decades.
The transportation package was not an easily fought win. There were many nay-sayers at the beginning of the legislative session who said a transportation solution would not be accomplished this year. Gov. McDonnell stuck his neck out for Northern Virginia businesses and citizens and should be applauded. The Northern Virginia General Assembly Delegation also deserves our thanks for working hard with their colleagues from across the state to find common ground. It is because of the dedication of Gov. McDonnell and these leaders that the Northern Virginia business community has a dependable and affordable long-term transportation plan that has been elusive to our citizens and businesses for far too long. Virginia’s legislature and Governor have made us proud. Their work goes a long way to keeping Northern Virginia open for business.
Jim Corcoran is president and chief executive of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 650 businesses with nearly 500,000 employees in Northern Virginia.