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McDonnell takes transportation plan on the road

RICHMOND — Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is taking his transportation plan on the road.

The Republican governor is trying to get a major overhaul of the state’s transportation funding through the General Assembly this year. In addition to seeking bipartisan support in the legislature, McDonnell is also courting outside groups, including business, labor and transportation groups.

McDonnell and Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton visited Roanoke and Herndon on Thursday before heading to Newport News.

The governor has proposed a plan he has said would bring in and additional $845 million a year to the state’s transportation coffers to fund road construction and maintenance, as well as transit and rail projects.

McDonnell’s plan, which needs legislative approval, calls for nixing the state’s 17.5-cent per gallon gas tax and raising the state sales tax by 0.8 percent to 5.8 percent.

The ambitious plan would need support from both Republicans and Democrats, who have been at odds this week over a surprise redistricting plan Senate GOP members approved on Monday.

A Republican insider who discussed the redistricting plan with multiple legislators said Wednesday that GOP delegates are concerned that the Senate’s move will kill any prospects for cooperation on the governor’s transportation agenda.

In a Christopher Newport University poll of 1,015 Virginia voters, 63 percent of respondents said they support replacing the gas tax with an increased sales tax, while 30 percent said they do not. The poll was conducted Jan. 14-20.

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