Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved a $13.1 billion, six-year improvement program, which allocates $3.2 billion for rail and public transportation projects.
“When the draft program was made available to the public in April, I directed Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to ramp up public involvement by getting out into the communities and holding hearings in nine regions across the state to solicit public input,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Nearly 400 people attended and 1,620 oral and written comments were collected. From that information, the CTB adjusted the program to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else.”
Rail-specific project highlights include extending the Hampton Roads Tide light-rail system into Virginia Beach; providing two new passenger trains from Richmond to Norfolk; funding improvements in the Metro 2025 program, including upgrades for eight-car trains along the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority’s Orange line and funding a second passenger train to Lynchburg.
The six-year program will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritization process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by Gov. McAuliffe earlier this year. Under the process, projects will be objectively selected based on regional needs.
The CTB will work in collaboration with localities to set weights for key factors such as congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. Specific projects will then be screened and selected for funding beginning in July 2016.
Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director, Jennifer Mitchell said, “The final program also reflects added funds for rail and transit projects to enhance regional mobility and provide more transportation choices.”