ABSTRACT: Virginia politicians need to put a plan in place in 2013 to ensure that the Virginia Department of Transportation does not suffer any budget shortfalls in the near future. Here is why.
I live in Roanoke, Va. I believe that state politicians need to put a plan in place in 2013 to ensure that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) does not suffer any funding shortfalls in the near future. Virginia's political leaders passed legislation in 2011 to address this issue. However, they need to do more to help VDOT. The agency recently announced that its revenues over the next six years might be as much as $700 million less than previously projected.
VDOT is one of Virginia's most important government agencies. Among other things, it plays a vital role in maintaining and improving the state's transportation infrastructure.
Some of VDOT's proposed improvement projects will provide a substantial benefit to Virginia residents. For instance, parts of I-81, which runs through my hometown, are extremely congested. As a result, drivers have to spend more time commuting to work, and truckers take longer to deliver their goods to stores and other facilities. The traffic snarls also pose safety issues. VDOT plans to fix these problems by widening I-81. The agency might have to delay this project if it experiences funding shortfalls.
Virginia's politicians will have to deal with a lot of issues in 2013. However, they should take the time to put a plan in place to protect VDOT's budget. Gov. Robert McDonnell has already started the conversation. He wants to slightly increase the state's sales tax (while eliminating the gas tax) and earmark the additional revenues for transportation projects. Hopefully, Virginia's legislators will keep the discussion going.
-- Anthony Hopper (January 25, 2013)