I-64 may get millions to ease congestion
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation budget would provide millions of dollars for road and rail projects along Interstate 64 from Newport News to Richmond to ease traffic congestion. According to McDonnell’s office, his transportation budget would allocate $64 million for reconstructive paving and $85 million for capacity improvements on I-64. Capacity improvements would widen the lanes so cars have more room to travel.
McDonnell’s transportation plan, dubbed “Virginia’s Road to the Future,” would invest a total of $3.1 billion into the state’s transportation network over the next five years. About $1 billion would go toward more than 150 rail and transit projects.
York County would get about $64,000 to improve secondary roads. About $35 million would go toward the crossover of I-64 and I-95 to fix overlap issues near Richmond.
McDonnell wants to fund his plan by eliminating the 17.5-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax and increasing the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent.
I-64 is notorious for its heavy traffic and bumpy roads. The congestion problems between Newport News and Richmond have long been a priority for lawmakers, but it has been on the back burner for many years. McDonnell is using his last year in office to shape his legacy around championing the major transportation issues of the state.
“I think when you improve transportation, it’s good for everybody,” said Tamara Rollinson, director of communications for Virginia Department of Transportation. “It’s good for business, tourism, jobs and for the well-being and health of the state.”
Rollinson said McDonnell’s transportation budget would have a tremendous impact on the Newport News, Williamsburg and Richmond areas because traffic volumes have grown substantially over the years.
“Traffic takes up time, gas, preparations, and it tampers with Virginia’s ability to attract visitors,” Rollinson said.
Traffic and congestion can affect visitors’ desire to return. If Virginia’s roads become more travel-friendly, Rollinson believes tourism may increase.
Richard Schreiber, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, agreed.
“Tourists who are driving here expect the trip from Washington to take two hours, but if it takes three to four hours – which is not unheard of – it makes the trip unpleasant and undesirable,” Schreiber said. “If you confront that in both directions, you’re less likely to come back that destination again.”
Schreiber said McDonnell’s transportation plan is a good start, but he believes more needs to be done. He said he would like to see two additional lanes built on both sides.
Schreiber said easing congestion will offer tourists in Virginia a more pleasurable travel experience.
McDonnell’s plan to funding his transportation budget is reflected in Senate Bill 1355, which is sponsored by three Republican senators – Stephen Newman of Forest, Richard Stuart of Montross and Jeffrey McWaters of Virginia Beach.
On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee voted 8-6 in favor of SB 1355. The eight Republicans on the committee voted for the bill; the six Democrats voted against it.
SB 1355 now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for another vote.
“A world-class transportation system is vital to both economic opportunity and to the quality of life of every Virginian,” McDonnell, a Republican, said in a press release. “It is imperative that we act now to ensure that Virginia continues to lead the way as a top place to live, work and raise a family.”
The complete list of highway projects proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/mcdonnell-highways
The complete list of proposed transit and rail projects is available at: http://tinyurl.com/mcdonnell-rail
Here is the full text of the governor’s transportation funding plan: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1588
To track or comment on Senate Bill 1355, visit the Richmond Sunlight website: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2013/sb1355/
The 10th Annual Filipino Festival will be held Aug. 7-8 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 8200 Woodman Rd., beginning with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. Friday and continuing with live entertainment, food and exhibits until 10 p.m. On Saturday the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a full schedule of performances featuring traditional Filipino dance, music and song.
Filipino cuisine, including BBQ, pansit, lumpia, adobo, halo-halo, lechon, empanada and leche flan, will be available for purchase. The festival will also feature a children's area, church tours, exhibits, and health screenings. > Read more.
The Children’s Museum of Richmond last week opened its new Short Pump location at Short Pump Town Center, to the delight of children who attended a sneak preview of the location July 10. The new facility, located under the forthcoming LL Bean store (formerly the food court) is 8,500 square feet in size – much larger than CMoR’s former Short Pump location at West Broad Village, which opened in 2010. The new space includes The CarMax Foundation Service Station, the Silver Diner, a grocery store, a performance stage and an art studio, as well as a giant Light Bright Wall. > Read more.
The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Henrico Police are both presenting community events tomorrow, Aug. 1. The Feria Community Resource Fair at Richmond International Raceway brings together community service providers, embassies/consulates from Latin American countries, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporations that impact the Latino community. The Division of Police’s Community Day will feature demonstrations and displays from police, fire, animal protection and sheriff’s office, as well as family activities, food, entertainment and more. Other events this weekend include wine, chess and theatre! For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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