May 12, 2015 5:20 PM, EDT

Va. Gov. McAuliffe Says Congressional Inaction Imperils Road Projects

Jonathan S. Reiskin/Transport Topics

ARLINGTON, Va. — Virginia’s governor said his state will soon have to begin shutting down transportation improvement projects if Congress does not fund and reauthorize the federal Highway Trust Fund before the end of this month.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said there are 341 current projects that will have to stop unless Congress acts. During a bill-signing event for a new transportation law here at George Mason University in Arlington, McAuliffe urged all members of his audience “to reach out” to their U.S. representatives and urge them to come up with a new transportation plan.

McAuliffe, elected to one four-year term in November 2013, said Virginia gets about $1 billion a year in matching transportation funds from the federal government. He criticized Congress for “kicking the can down the road” rather than producing a long-term solution.

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McAuliffe said Virginia is spending its own tax revenue of state roads and bridges because transportation is necessary for a growing economy.

“I couldn’t bring in businesses to the commonwealth without great infrastructure. We’re spending $5 billion a year on roads and multimodal projects,” he told a conference at the university’s public policy school.

At the same event, McAuliffe’s transportation secretary, Aubrey Lane Jr., said he has already started a short-term cash management program so the department does not have to shut down projects until absolutely necessary.

“Once we stop, it costs us a lot of money,” Layne said.

Layne said, if necessary, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, or CTB, would make decisions about which projects are closest to completion, so they would keep their funding as long as possible.