At his annual transportation conference last week, Governor Bob McDonnell discussed the bipartisan progress being made in addressing Virginia's transportation issues; and, he announced he was working on a significant transportation funding package for the upcoming General Assembly session that will eliminate the need to transfer road construction funds to maintenance by 2019, and put at least $500 million a year in new transportation funding into roads, bridges, transit and passenger rail.

"Driving around the state, you can now see hundreds of projects underway to get people and freight in Virginia moving again," McDonnell said. "Many of these projects are being funded by our 2011 Transportation Funding Package, which set the framework for investing $4 billion over a three year period at a time when Virginia is seeing near historically low interest rates and construction costs. It is the most new funding for transportation in Virginia since 1986."

There's no question that Virginia has significant challenges. The 2011 Texas Transportation Institute ranked the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia metropolitan area as the most congested area in terms of commuter delay in the U.S., and Hampton Roads isn't far behind. This congestion had an average cost per commuter of $1,495 and an overall regional impact of $3.8 billion. The purchasing power behind Virginia's motor fuels tax, the largest source of state transportation funding, has declined by 54% since 1986.

On top of that decline, VA has more vehicles traveling Virginia's roadways, and increasing CAFE standards and use of alternative fuel vehicles. Like almost every state in the country, declining revenues and growing needs present an ever increasing threat to the state's ability to maintain our existing infrastructure, construct new roads, and expand our transportation options.

"My goal for our funding package is to generate at least $500 million in revenues annually by 2019," said McDonnell. "The new transportation revenues will be dedicated to maintenance, and will eliminate the shortfall which is causing more and more funds meant for construction to be instead spent just maintaining our existing infrastructure. This additional revenue will free up funds for new construction, and will lead to additional funds for transit and passenger rail."

Here are some project highlights:

As of August 2012, $14 billion worth of projects are now under construction, or in procurement throughout all parts of Virginia, including:

•Dulles Metrorail - $5.7 billion
•The Downtown/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension - $2.1 billion
•The Route 460 Corridor Improvements Project - $1.7 billion
•Truck climbing lanes on I-81
•The reconstruction of 11 bridges over I-95 in Richmond

Construction is underway on the 95 Express Lanes Project
•Expected to open in early 2015