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.”

Online

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/
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Reynolds CC dedicates student center


Reynolds Community College recently celebrated the dedication of the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center, named for longtime supporters of the college who have made numerous investments in it.

Jerry Owen served on the Reynolds College Board from 1984 to 1988, and he and his wife support the college’s scholarship fund and created an endowment for the Reynolds Middle College, which helps students earn a high school equivalency and transition into a degree or workforce credential program. > Read more.

Capital One sponsors ‘Coders Experience’


Capital One hosted its “Coders Experience” event in Richmond and a number of other state locations Oct. 14. The events attracted hundreds of middle school girls, who learned how to create their own mobile apps, hone problem-solving skills and gain software development knowledge. A second day of Coders Experience events will take place Oct. 21. More than 500 Capital One volunteers are participating in the 10 events. > Read more.

Hermitage band member named All-American


The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance Selection Tour will visit Hermitage H.S. Oct. 19 to recognize Truman Chancy as a 2018 U.S. Army All-American. Hermitage High School will honor Chancy before his classmates, bandmates, family and friends at the high school’s band room during band practice, and he will be presented with his honorary All-American Marching Band jacket. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: Oct. 16, 2017


This week, Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers is asking for the public to assist the Richmond Police Department in the identification of wayward artists that were using buildings as their canvas.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 14, four people were recorded on security cameras vandalizing multiple properties in the area of the 2500 blocks of West Main Street and Floyd Avenue. The suspects (pictured) were walking north on Robinson Street and spray painting the properties as they meandered along. > Read more.

Slipping through


Hermitage quarterback Jay Carney escapes defenders during the Panthers' 33-0 win against Godwin Friday night. Hermitage is 8-0 and has won its past four games by a combined score of 172-28. > Read more.

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Varina Library will host a Halloween Horror Side by Side of “Psycho” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The group will view the original 1960 film “Psycho,” directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and the 1998 American horror film of the same name, directed and produced by Gus Van Sant, side by side. For details, call 501-1980 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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