Home Eileen Filler-Corn Video: Gov. Northam, Speaker Filler-Corn, Senate Majority Leader Saslaw Announce Comprehensive Transportation...

Video: Gov. Northam, Speaker Filler-Corn, Senate Majority Leader Saslaw Announce Comprehensive Transportation Package for Virginia

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See below for video of Gov. Ralph Northam, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Dick Saslaw, as well as a press release from Gov. Northam’s office, regarding their rollout of a “comprehensive transportation package that will improve driver and pedestrian safety and modernize funding for transit, rail, and roads.” The parts I most like, not surprisingly, are those related to transit and rail (e.g., doubling Amtrak service between Washington DC and Richmond, increasing the VRE Fredericksburg line by 75%), including raising Virginia’s super-low gasoline tax in order to fund transit and rail. Also, we definitely need to focus on pedestrian safety. So there’s definitely some good stuff in here, although clearly we need to do a *LOT* more to move away from an environmentally unfriendly transportation system towards one that’s sustainable and that actually enhances quality of life, instead of worsening it, as the current transportation system does to a large extent.

Governor Northam and Legislative Leaders Highlight Plan to Improve Driver Safety, Modernize Transportation System

~ Transportation package includes new ‘Rail Authority’ to expand passenger and commuter rail, Transit Incentive Program ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and legislative leaders today announced support for a comprehensive transportation package that will improve driver and pedestrian safety and modernize funding for transit, rail, and roads.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw joined the Governor for the announcement, along with House Transportation Committee Chair Delores McQuinn and Senate Transportation Committee Chair David Marsden. The measures are outlined in House Bill 1414 (Filler-Corn) and Senate Bill 890 (Saslaw).

“Virginians should be able to get to work or to school safely, without sitting in traffic,” said Governor Northam. “This bold package will reduce congestion, transform transit and rail service, and support economic growth across Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to pass it into law.”

This landmark transportation package will make roads safer by establishing a Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program and implementing a number of proven safety policies. These measures include prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones while driving, banning open containers of alcohol in vehicles, making failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense, enhancing speed enforcement, and allowing localities to lower speed limits. Combined, they are expected to save more than 120 lives a year.

“In November, Virginians overwhelmingly demanded we take swift, decisive action that improves their lives,” said Speaker of the House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn. “I am excited to work with the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to pass this legislation that will make our roads safer, commutes shorter, and transform passenger and commuter rail in the Commonwealth.”

Despite Virginians driving more than ever, revenues from motor fuel taxes have continued to drop. This legislation modernizes Virginia’s transportation funding model by cutting vehicle registration fees in half, raising the gas tax, and indexing it to inflation. New revenues will build a sustainable transportation system over the next decade and will be distributed through a new streamlined funding mechanism that supports a multimodal network.

“We know we can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. “This bill will ensure we are using taxpayer money efficiently, will save Virginians’ time, and will enhance infrastructure options for moving people and goods throughout the Commonwealth. This measure is long overdue and a much needed path forward to addressing Virginia’s transportation challenges.”

This proposal also includes measures to dramatically transform Virginia’s transit and rail systems. It establishes the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority to promote and expand passenger and commuter rail service across the Commonwealth. In coordination with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the legislation authorizes the use of bonds to assist with the construction of a new rail Long Bridge across the Potomac River, increasing capacity for passenger, commuter and freight trains, and reducing congestion. The package also establishes a Transit Incentive Program, which will promote improved transit service, support regional routes, and reduce barriers to transit use by low-income individuals.

“This legislation is the foundation for a true multimodal transportation system,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “By building a sustainable funding bridge to the future, Virginia is making a bold investment in safe, reliable travel options that create mobility for all Virginians.”

The legislation also includes funding to support:

  • Smart Scale, the data-driven model for new capacity transportation projects;
  • Interstates, secondary and city streets to meet safety and performance targets;
  • Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to help restore funding for regional priorities;
  • I-81 Debt Authorization to accelerate $2 billion program of projects; and
  • Matching Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) funds for WMATA
  • Critical or Special bridges and tunnels

Watch the video of today’s announcement here. Additional information on the Governor’s full transportation package is available here.