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The Commonwealth Transportation Board recently approved Virginia’s transportation improvement program, which aims to advance projects on schedule despite the financial ramifications of COVID-19.
The Six-Year Improvement Program, which is updated annually, outlines planned spending for transportation projects that have been proposed for construction development or study. The program approved at the board’s December meeting accounts for fiscal years 2021-26. The Commonwealth Transportation Board is a 17-member group, appointed by the governor, that allocates highway funding, designates routes and funds airports, seaports and public transportation.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Virginia lawmakers to adjust the biennial budget. Gov. Ralph Northam called legislators back for a special session in August to address pressing issues, including the pandemic. Although the financial impact of COVID-19 on transportation revenues in Virginia is estimated to be $850 million through fiscal 2022, the projects in the improvement program are expected to remain on schedule.
In this special two-part year in review, we look at the technology and regulatory developments that will help you and your business in 2021. Transport Topics Reporter Eleanor Lamb and Managing Editor for Features Seth Clevenger discuss HOS, software, equipment and more. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
“This [Six-Year Improvement Program] update allows the commonwealth to proceed with its transportation construction projects on time and on schedule,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “With the General Assembly’s passage of the governor’s budget amendment during the special session to provide the needed flexibility, we are now able to support critical infrastructure, secure our workforce and serve as the platform for Virginia’s economic recovery and growth.”
The “COVID-19 update” of the Six-Year Improvement Program includes plans for adding a truck climbing lane to certain portions of Interstate 81 in southwest Virginia. A major freight corridor, I-81 runs through Virginia for 325 miles. Northam has described I-81 as the region’s “economic Main Street.”
Another project would continue work to extend the I-95 express lanes in Stafford County near Fredericksburg. Running from Florida to Maine, I-95 passes through Virginia for about 170 miles and frequently is congested.
Besides approving the improvement program, the Commonwealth Transportation Board authorized the Virginia Department of Transportation to enter into an agreement related to the Arlington National Cemetery expansion project. Specifically, the agreement will allow VDOT to help coordinate the design and construction of transportation improvements associated with the cemetery’s southern expansion. The project is meant to increase internment space and create a “culturally rich corridor” around the nearby memorials, according to VDOT.
“We are proud to be part of this special project to expand Arlington National Cemetery, allowing the continued tradition of recognizing and honoring our country’s fallen heroes,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said.
Also at the meeting, the board approved three construction contracts. The largest, totaling $13 million, was awarded to Kentucky-based Phillips Construction to improve an interchange along I-81 in Washington County, which borders Tennessee.
A contract for $11.3 million was awarded to Bryant Contracting Inc. to replace the bridge that carries state Route 189 over Blackwater River, which is in the Hampton Roads area. Some $8.3 million was awarded to W.C. English Inc. to replace the bridge that carries U.S. Route 29 over Norfolk Southern Railway Co. lines in Campbell County, which is immediately south of Lynchburg.
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