Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday released a list of projects that his $3.1 billion transportation plan would pay for, making overtures to legislators across the commonwealth by including road fixes in their regions.
McDonnell's plan would eliminate the state's 17.5-cents-a-gallon gas tax but increase the state's sales tax from 5 cents to 5.8 cents, along with other measures to scrape together money for the state's crumbling roads and bridges.
"The recommended list of transportation infrastructure projects represents a significant down payment on Virginia's transportation future. Every corner of the commonwealth will reap the benefits of safer roads, quicker commutes and increased access to public transportation if this plan is adopted," McDonnell said in a statement.
The list includes lots of good news for Northern Virginians, including $300 million for the Dulles Rail project, a $51 million makeover of the Interstate 66 and Route 28 interchange in Fairfax County, $90 million for moving the Interstate 95 interchange in Stafford County, $36 million for improving Route 606 in Loudoun County, as well as millions for paving roads across Northern Virginia.
The projects picked by the governor are desperately needed, said Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Bob Chase.
"I think you wouldn't go wrong in thinking that there was some relationship between this list and where votes are needed," Chase said. "But that's not exactly new and revolutionary. That's not the first time. That's politics and governing 101."
But the governor's plan faces roadblocks in the General Assembly, where it has yet to be debated and where several legislators have already proposed alternatives.
"There's a fair amount of action going on behind the scenes to possibly amend or even improve the governor's program," said Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg. "I would expect the governor's bill to get amended considerably."
And Democrats are already lining up to oppose cutting the gas tax. A list of road projects did not win them over.
"It doesn't look like there's much going to Northern Virginia at first blush. That's a bit of a concern to me," said Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. "The governor's transportation plan, removing the gasoline tax, is lunacy. People that use the road should be expected to pay a tax."