DALLAS - The Virginia Department of Transportation sought bids on more than $2.5 billion of transportation projects — more than the promised $2 billion — this year, Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday.
"Earlier this year, VDOT made the commitment to advertise more than $2 billion worth of projects this year," said Gov. McDonnell. "I am happy to report they will make good on this promise."
Most of the spending is dedicated to engineering and construction of new infrastructure. But the total includes $545 million earmarked for road repaving and pavement rehabilitation.
Virginia was able to get a record dollar amount of projects for a calendar year on the table thanks to additional funding provided by the enactment in May of the commonwealth's first comprehensive transportation funding law in 27 years, McDonnell said.
"The commonwealth is able to move aggressively ahead on projects because of the bipartisan effort to approve historic transportation funding earlier this year," he said. "Our 2013 transportation bill represents the largest infusion of transportation funding in Virginia more than 25 years."
The funding law eliminated the state's motor fuels tax of 17.5 cents a gallon in favor of a 3.5% sales tax on the wholesale price of gasoline and 6% on diesel fuel. Additional taxes are levied in northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads area to fund projects in those areas.
The state sales tax was raised to 5.3% from 5%, with the increase dedicated to transportation projects. The funding act also established a fee for electric cars and other alternative fuel vehicles of $64 per year.
The more than $250 million of dedicated funding for intercity rail in the new funding law will enable Virginia to extend passenger rail service to Roanoke within the next four years, McDonnell said.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board in June approved a $15.7 billion, six-year transportation improvement program, an increase of $6.2 billion from the plan approved in 2012.
The six-year program provides $11.5 billion for highways and bridges through fiscal 2019, up $2.5 billion from the earlier plan. Rails and public transportation will receive $2.9 billion over the span, an increase of $500 million.
The Hampton Roads area will receive $1.3 billion of new funding for transportation improvements.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Fund, which is not included in the statewide plan, will receive $1.9 billion over the six years for projects in the Washington area.
The board also adopted a transportation budget for fiscal 2014 of $5.2 billion, up 11% from fiscal 2013 with the new revenue.
The 2014 total includes $4.6 billion to VDOT for road and bridge construction, maintenance, and debt service, $504 million for public transportation, commuter assistance programs, and $62.6 million for seaports and airports.
Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton said Virginia motorists will see more highway maintenance and construction crews than ever in the next few years.
"This historic amount of advertised work is proof that this new and sustainable funding from the transportation bill has enhanced VDOT's ability to move projects forward and improve the condition of our roads," Connaughton said.
McDonnell will be succeeded by Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe on Jan. 11.