Metro, US 1 Among Northern Virginia Projects That Could Benefit From Senate Infrastructure Bill | Securities
While some details of the Senate’s $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill still need to be worked out and the votes still need to be whipped, local and regional leaders in Northern Virginia have their eyes peeled for possible money. federal government that would have a huge impact on transport in the region. system.
Perhaps more importantly for the region as a whole, the bill commits $ 150 million per year over the next eight years for Metro’s capital improvements, a renewal of the funding agreement between the federal government , Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., Who was among a small group of senators who worked out the plan in recent weeks, said Metro funding was an important part of the program.
“Throughout the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, one of my main priorities has been to ensure that [Metro] has the federal funding it needs to continue serving people in Northern Virginia and across the DMV – including the thousands of federal employees who rely on Metro to get to work every day, ”Warner said in a statement.
In total, the package allocates $ 110 billion for roads and bridges, $ 66 billion for rail and $ 39 billion for public transit spread across the country. And as the Senate debates the fate of the bill, agencies in Northern Virginia reflect on how they could use the new money.
According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, Virginia would expect to receive $ 7 billion for highway programs and $ 537 million for bridge repairs and replacement. While the legislation does not fund specific transport projects like the House of Representatives’ Surface Transport Bill would, a number of long-considered projects may finally get funding with its help.
Representatives for Warner have said the legislation could help fund projects such as the expansion of the United States 1 in Fairfax and Prince William counties, which could ultimately allow the extension of the transit line. planned rapid transit from Fairfax County to Prince William, a possibility that the Virginia Department of Rail and public transportation are currently investigating.
Other Northern Virginia projects that may receive funding include the replacement of the American Legion Bridge and the extension of the I-495 Express from the bridge to the Dulles toll road, as well as the planned replacement of the Long Bridge which is critical to the state’s expansion of Virginia Railway Express. and Amtrak service.
“I look forward to seeing this investment pay off for commuters in Virginia and throughout the DMV area,” Warner said.
Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation said about $ 100 billion of the bill’s transportation money would flow through the U.S. Department of Transportation through competitive grants like RAISE, a program Prince William and Manassas have used to finance local transport projects such as the Mathis Revitalization of Avenues.
These grants could also be important for the Transforming Rail in Virginia project. VRE recently applied for a RAISE grant to expand L’Enfant Plaza station and add an additional main track in Washington to accommodate more trains.
“Additional funds for discretionary grant programs, such as RAISE, could provide financial support for some of our planned improvements,” said VRE spokesperson Karen Finucan Clarkson.
Monica Backmon, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, told InsideNoVa that with all of the transportation infrastructure needs in the region, any extra money would help, and the Senate bill would likely bring in a lot.
When the North Virginia authority adopted its current six-year plan, it requested four times the amount of funding it could distribute.
“I don’t see that number going down, if you will,” Backmon told InsideNoVa. “So there are never enough resources and that puts us in a position where we partially fund some projects or delay funding others. So I hope… that this will complement us and help us achieve some projects earlier so that we can realize the benefits sooner… I think this will be a huge victory for the region.
Backmon also applauded the bill for its investment in electric vehicle infrastructure. The bill includes $ 7.5 billion for a nationwide network of chargers.
But as traffic jams return to pre-pandemic levels, some are warning of a windfall of widening roads with the new money.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the regional advocacy group Coalition for Smarter Growth, praised the bill for its investments in transit and rail, which he called “historic.” But his organization is backing a “fix first” amendment that would require states to deal with road maintenance backlogs before expanding them, a requirement of the bill for transit and rail spending.
And Schwartz said it’s crucial that communities use the money wisely and link transport spending to land use to reduce car dependency, which he argues as building new roads often only increases.
“There is a tendency to keep trying to widen the roads and then they fill up again in five years,” Schwartz said. “Some of our biggest challenges are outside of Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun, where we really need to make changes to land use. … We’re just not going to be able to navigate our way out of traffic in these areas.