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Senator proposes transportation bill

Ashley McKnight-Taylor

State Sen. Fred Quayle, R- Suffolk, introduced a plan to the Senate Wednesday that would create a governing body to levy taxes and set tolls to raise money for transportation projects in the area.

Senate Bill 5010 outlines the formation of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority, which would consist of one elected official from each locality and members of the House of Delegates and of the Senate (all from different jurisdictions), Quayle said.

The districts included are Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, Suffolk, Poquoson, Newport News, Williamsburg, York County, and James City County, he said.

The authority would not have independent taxing power, but if two-thirds of the local governing bodies agree, it could impose on all the jurisdictions a tax and tolls, which would be sent to the authority and used to finance major transportation projects, Quayle said.

The bill calls for a 1 percent sales tax, as well as tolls on Route 17 in Chesapeake near the North Carolina border, and new or improved highway, bridge, tunnel, or transportation facilities constructed with authority funds within the boundaries of the districts represented, he said.

The sales tax alone would generate $150 million a year, he added, while $275 million is need for projects throughout Hampton Roads.

The authority would have the right to determine the amount of the tolls and provide for congestion pricing and reduced rate for commuters, if it chose to do so, Quayle said.

“This does not mean we don’t want statewide transportation, we certainly do,” he said.

But if the state transportation plan is adopted as is, northern Virginia and Hampton Roads still will need additional help, he said.

“This will give us that.”

After the bill was introduced to the senate, it eventually ended up with the Transportation Subcommittee of the Finance Committee, which will hear the bill on Tuesday morning, he said. The full Finance Committee will meet later that day and consider any recommendations that the subcommittee might make.

Every Hampton Roads senator supports the bill, Quayle said.

ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com