Virginia governor McDonnell signed his controversial transportation omnibus bill this morning. Among other things, the bill:
- Requires comprehensive plans adopted by local jurisdictions to agree with the state’s transportation plans. This means that localities will no longer be able to officially oppose VDOT plans to build or widen highways when adopting their own plans.
- Authorizes the state to require localities that cancel or modify projects to reimburse any money the state has spent on them, even if the locality never supported the project.
- Directs 67% of any future year general fund budget surplus that is not otherwise committed towards the state’s transportation trust fund, or a “subfund” thereof. By specifying that money can go to a “subfund,” the bill bypasses the normal formulas that distribute funding around the state and allows the governor to pick specific projects.
- Removes up to $500 million from the highways portion of the funding distribution formula and directs it towards various non-formula highway projects, including unspecified “high priority” ones.
- Allows private companies to buy naming rights for highways, bridges, and interchanges.
- Redefines the state’s popular transportation revenue sharing program to put emphasis on funding maintenance rather than capital projects.
The bill does not provide any new authority for Northern Virginia to fund and determine its own transportation goals, which has been a long time request from Northern Virginia jurisdictions.