Roads bill passes

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Traffic backs up along Holland Road in Suffolk on a recent weekday. The Virginia Senate approved Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $4 billion transportation plan Monday.

Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan received a resounding welcome in the Virginia Senate on Monday.

The $4 billion plan passed the Senate 34-6. McDonnell lauded the passage as way to help reduce congestion and create jobs.

“With each new vote in the General Assembly recognizing the merits of our transportation program, we are moving closer to jumpstarting needed transportation projects that will reduce congestion, create jobs and open additional parts of the commonwealth to economic development,” McDonnell said.

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The House of Delegates approved the bill 65-33 Friday.

McDonnell said the plan also would create operating and capital funds for passenger rail.

In Suffolk, the governor’s proposal includes a widening a 1/3-mile stretch of Nansemond Parkway to four lanes; and reconstruction of Shoulders Hill Road and a portion of Route 1003.

U.S. Route 58 would get improvements in portions of the state. No improvements, however, are proposed for Route 58 in Suffolk. City officials had hoped to get state or federal money to help widen the road at the west end of the downtown bypass, an area that is frequently congested and has massive industrial projects currently under development.

Among the Route 58 projects that would be funded is a $20 million interchange in Southampton County.

Here in Hampton Roads, the money would be used to pay for a new Midtown Tunnel tube, light rail and widening some arterial surface roads in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

McDonnell called the plan “fiscally conservative” in that it would clear the use of $3 million in previously approved bonds at a time when construction prices are historically low. The total funding package would equal about $4 billion.

“It also saves taxpayers money by capitalizing on some of the best interest rates and construction bids in modern history,” McDonnell said.

In the House, Suffolk delegates Chris Jones and Lionell Spruill voted for the bill. Delegate Johnny Joannou voted against it.

In the Senate, Fred Quayle and Louise Lucas both voted in favor of the bill. Mamie Locke voted against it.