Virginia's infrastructure receives D+

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia's overall infrastructure is aging, and in some cases...close to failing.

"Here in Virginia, we've graded out as a D+," said Tom Fitzgerald, Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

At a news conference, members of the Virginia section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave out grades, done by committees in 13 different categories, including roads: which received a D-.

  • Storm water: D+.
  • Dams: D-.

In fact, nothing graded out better than a B-.

"We haven't made any progress, and in fact we're barely keeping up with our aging infrastructure," Fitzgerald said.

The engineers are calling for more awareness in the public, and in the general assembly, saying the funding formula for roads, bridges, and other projects needs a thorough review. But, with state revenues declining across the board, the question is, where does the money come from? The engineers suggest a political hot-button: increasing the gas tax.

"User fees and taxes, wherever they may come from, frankly, Virginia's been negligent on the transportation funding for quite a while," said Glen Bottomley, Committee Chair of Transportation.

A spokesman for the Transportation Construction Alliance agreed, and said, "We believe the people that use the system, ought to pay for the system." But, would it be enough? In an interview last month, a VDOT spokesman said the cost would be enormous, just for bridges.

"If we were to fix all of the structurally deficient bridges in the commonwealth, it would cost us $3.7 billion," said Jeff Caldwell, in September 17, 2009.

The Virginia Engineers have never before taken such a public stand on infrastructure needs and they admit it could take decades before the grades get better.

As a civil engineer, we understand it takes 20 years to scope something and develop it. It's not something that happens overnight," said Fitzgerald.

It's unclear so early on how lawmakers will react to this. New ways of generating revenue could be included in the next state budget due out by the end of the year.

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