Transportation money discussed

Published 10:17 pm Saturday, January 21, 2012

City leaders discussed possible methods of funding a number of pending transportation projects during their meeting Wednesday.

They ultimately voted to direct staff to implement some of the suggestions, including preparing an ordinance to create a transportation construction reserve fund.

Public Works Director Eric Nielsen discussed a number of projects either in progress or on the table, including the Nansemond Parkway and Holland Road widenings and a proposed Kenyon Road connector.


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The first phase of the Nansemond Parkway project currently is 10 percent complete and is expected to be completed by next year. But the second phase hasn’t been designed yet and would not be completed until summer 2015. It has an estimated cost of $9 million.

The Holland Road widening project currently is in the design stages, but only $5.4 million has been set aside for the project. An additional $67.6 million is needed to bring it to fruition.

Finally, CenterPoint Properties has proposed the Kenyon Road connector, which would cut through their property and provide greater mobility for truck traffic, Nielsen said.

Financial adviser David Rose of Davenport and Company presented possible funding opportunities for the projects, including the Virginia Transportation Opportunity Fund, the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, Virginia Transportation Revenue Sharing and the Economic Development Access Fund.

“We can effectively blitz several of these things at the same time,” Rose said.

All of the funds have strings attached, such as limits and requirements such as measurable economic benefits to funding the project.

Also, Budget and Strategic Planning Director Anne Seward proposed creating a local transportation construction reserve. Under the plan, any unbudgeted revenue — such as tax proceeds from a new business — would be directed toward transportation needs.

“Typically, they simply fall down to our fund balance,” she said. “These are the revenues that have actually helped you start new initiatives.”

Seward said having the fund would not lock Council into placing the excess revenues there but only provide a place for them to go.

“We’re not waiting on the state or federal government,” Seward said.

Councilman Charles Parr said he eventually would like to see a more stable funding source for the fund.

Other members of City Council said the fund is needed.

“Anytime the state is going to match you dollar for dollar, you should have money set aside for that purpose,” Councilman Leroy Bennett said.