What Will $4 Billion in Transportation Funding Do In Prince William?

We are seeing the last gasps of the road building era in Virginia.  By selling assets such as the liquor stores, borrowing money, and rummaging in the sofa for spare change, we are witnessing the last governor who might get one last surge of road construction approved. 

The massive network of existing roads and bridges in Virginia will not get better with age; major increases in maintenance costs lie ahead.  Future tax increases for transportation will end up being redirected – no matter what the politicians promise – to maintain the current transportation infrastructure.  

Don’t count on Uncle Sugar for a bailout.  Federal funding for surface transportation is shrinking.  Fuel-efficient cars will pay less in gas taxes, while future inflation (as the economy recovers) will reduce buying power.  Watch what happens when Congress renews the six-year funding authorization (“SAFETEA-LU”) for surface transportation in 2011 – if discretionary spending will ever be cut to reduce the Federal deficit, $$$ for new roads will have to shrink.   

So how will this last $4 billion (if approved by the General Assembly) affect Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park?  Of the 900 proposed projects, don’t look for any funding to extend VRE to Gainesville/Haymarket.  There’s no money for extending 234 Bypass north from I-66 through the Rural Area to support new subdivisions in Loudoun County (the “Road to the Wrong Side of Dulles”).

The expensive projects in this last gasp are an additional $130 million to widen I-66 to Haymarket, and $30 million to widen Route 28 to Nokesville.  Those are the last big subsidies for sprawl development, reducing traffic congestion for people who choose to live far from their jobs but demand the government provide better roads to reduce the headache of the commute.

Once the well runs dry, almost all of the new roads in the future will be toll roads.

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