Region pleads for road funding

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

For Suffolk, a third crossing for Hampton Roads and improvements to Route 460 are &uot;absolutely essential to our future,&uot; Suffolk City Manager R. Steven Herbert told City Council Wednesday.

Herbert and Mayor Bobby L. Ralph attended a meeting Wednesday morning of the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization, which included elected and appointed officials from 21 municipalities in Hampton Roads.

The highlight of the meeting was Hampton Roads’ need for $275 million a year in new transportation construction and improvement money, and how the area could generate it.

Email newsletter signup

Regional transportation planners have identified key projects needed to meet the area’s economic development and residential growth trends.

Enhancements to Interstate 64, another Midtown tunnel, the Southeastern Parkway and Greenbelt between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are on the list along with Route 460 and a third crossing.

User fees and tax increases were recommended to pay for the projects, but not overwhelmingly applauded.

&uot;The general consensus was that this puts everybody in a difficult position,&uot; Herbert added in his remarks to council during its work session, regarding the suggestion to raise taxes.

The opening round of discussions focused on a &uot;menu approach to funding,&uot; said Herbert, with numerous components, such as a half percent increase in regional sales taxes, an additional 8 cents on each gallon of gasoline, a special $50 vehicle fee, tolls and federal aid.

&uot;This blend of taxes was structured to be kind of user based,&uot; said Ralph.

Ralph and Herbert opposed a proposed one-percent property tax increase.

Transportation discussions at the regional meeting also hinged on the ports.

&uot;Moving goods into and out of the port is driving some of this,&uot; said Herbert. He added that part of the funding plan proposed is a fee on containers that come through the port.

Editor and Publisher Andy Prutsok contributed to this story.