Gov. McDonnell pushes to improve Virginia's roadways

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT)  - Governor Bob McDonnell wants to throw billions of dollars of funding into the state's transportation system. But, there is some concern this could increase the state's debt.

Nearly a year after being sworn in as Governor of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell laid out his master plan for the state's roadways. A plan leaders say will not only create jobs, but get traffic moving again in the Commonwealth.

Simply put, we all know traffic can be a nightmare in parts of the state, and also quite a bumpy ride.

But McDonnell -- keeping up with his campaign promise -- is ready to change it all. "The time to invest and solve the problem is now. Not kick the can down the road to another day."

That, in his mind, would come in the form of $4 billion over the next three years to improve the state's roadways. "As I've said many time, there are no Republican or Democratic roads. We either get them built, or we don't. That's why you'll see bipartisan support."

Support to help him do a number of things, including the nearly 900 road projects on the table.

First, easing traffic in Hampton Roads and NOVA through reallocating some sale tax money. Also, use money through the privatization of ABC stores, give a tax credit to employers that allow people to work from home and stay off the road, getting more people to use rail and ship, among other ideas.

The governor has support. "For too many years we've been unable to move the ball through the red zone and over the goal line," says (R-Bristol) William Wampler.

At least one taxpayer agrees, saying, "This is a huge thing to move forward and this is a great thing."

But critics say this plan raises the state's debt and this might not be the right way to fix the transportation system.

The Governor responded to those critics today, saying, "It is not new debt. It is accelerating debt already approved overwhelmingly with bipartisan majorities in 2007 in both houses."

Leaders say now is the time to invest. Interest rates are low and this legislative session could be the one to get this all done.

The Governor is open to suggestions. But, if his plan passes, he plans to get it in motion for fiscal year 2012.

The plan from the Governor would not raise taxes. You can expect there to be a big debate on this topic coming up this legislative session.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.