Virginia transport budget under stress
Virginia officials say they must cut $2.6 billion from the state’s six-year transportation plan because of a sharp drop in revenues.
The commonwealth's belt tightening is a sign of the times as all states struggle with cutting costs and services to prevent budget deficits.
In addition to reduced state and federal gas tax receipts, Virginia's revenue from titling taxes is also drying up as residents buy fewer cars.
The transportation revenue shortfall is in addition to a $1.1 billion reduction in transportation revenues last June.
The cutbacks mean several major highway projects are in jeopardy, reductions in service such as for mowing, and snow and ice removal, and the Virginia Department of Transportation will terminate 900 employees.
Drivers can expect to notice a difference in road maintenance, warns Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer.
“Surfaces may get rougher, signals may get repaired slower,” he said several weeks ago, as reported by the DC Examiner. “Those are the hard trade-offs that our staff is going to be looking at.”
Homer also warned that the revenue situation is probably permanent.
“We believe these changes are structural and long-term in nature. They are not cyclical and there is not a likely prospect of a bounce back in gas tax revenues, in sales taxes or in personal property taxes,” he said. ' Eric Kulisch