Transportation funding remains atop the wish list for Northern Virginia legislators who represent a region in perpetual gridlock.
Underfunding those needs could have dire consequences for Prince William County and the state’s business community, according to the Board of County Supervisors. As legislators head to Richmond for the upcoming General Assembly, transportation, locality aid and police funding are among the priorities that county supervisors have for the delegation.
Prince William is seeking state funding to pick up a larger share of road projects within the county.
“Local taxpayers cannot shoulder the burden of building adequate transportation infrastructure alone,” the county’s legislative priority document says.
Among its requests for road improvements, the county would like funding to widen Route 1 from Mary’s Way to Featherstone Road, a $52 million project; for a bypass around Route 234, at a cost of $205 million; and to continue an interchange improvement project at routes 1 and 123, $90 million.
Prince William is seeking additional funds for the extension of a third rail between Arkendale in Stafford County and Powell’s Creek in Prince William for VRE. Officials fear that $75 million in federal funding, which has been allocated, might not be enough to finish the project to provide high speed rail along the Interstate 95 corridor. There is no specific price tag attached to the cost overrun.
Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville) said that state officials are not sure whether the allocated funds will be adequate but that it’s something the county wants legislators to keep an eye on.
The county is also hoping the state supports its request to annually allocate its “track fees,” which VRE pays to host rail lines Norfolk Southern and CSX. Although the state, through federal funds, typically pays the nearly $10 million in fees, a change in federal legislation has meant the money has been allocated elsewhere for next year. VRE officials say that if the money is not returned, it could mean steep fare increases.
The state has instituted across-the-board cuts for localities in recent years. Although some funding was restored last year, Prince William officials say that $1.1 million in cuts this year is “substantial” and “go directly to the heart of local services.”
A bill, HB 599, provides for increased state funding for local police departments. But state funds for the Prince William County Police Department have been cut in recent years — $2.5 million since 2008. The county wants more funds for its police department.
Prince William is seeking the General Assembly’s support in fighting a decision to end the county’s partnership with federal immigration authorities, known as 287 (g), which allows local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. The controversial program was slated to end Monday.