Earlier in the session, Senate Democrats opposed my proposal to shift hundreds of millions of additional dollars annually to transportation. As a result, the commonwealth could not even contemplate an additional $300 million for Dulles rail or any other project this year without raiding other essential projects in Northern Virginia and throughout the state.
I want to make clear that, despite the Senate’s recent maneuverings, my administration is firmly committed to the timely completion and competent management of Phase 2 of the Dulles rail project. My administration has pledged $150 million to mitigate the projected toll increases over the next two years. We remain concerned about the finances of the project and want to ensure that all taxpayer dollars are used wisely. We intend to work with the funding partners on ways to reduce costs and refine financing plans to mitigate toll increases.
Finally, I want to address the idea that Northern Virginia is not receiving its “fair share” of transportation funding. Northern Virginia receives 75 percent of the state’s transit operating funds and 96 percent of transit capital funds. In other words, Northern Virginia will receive $272 million, or 87 percent, out of the $314 million available for transit over the next six years across the entire commonwealth. Additionally, Virginia has contributed or will contribute: $275 million to Phase 1 of Dulles rail; $150 million to Phase 2; $400 million for the Beltway express lanes project; $100 million for the Interstate 95 express lanes project; and hundreds of millions more for other Northern Virginia transportation projects. The commonwealth does invest in Northern Virginia, although we all know more must be done.
The $150 million the commonwealth has committed to Phase 2 is not required to be paid until 2013. Over the next year, we will work to get the politics out of this project and implement recent changes to federal and state law, as well as to improve accountability, management and value engineering. Only after we accomplish these goals and restore accountability can we approach the General Assembly for additional funds for Dulles rail.
The writer, a Republican, is governor of Virginia.