Friday, February 11, 2011

Top Virginia Highway Projects Identified (Just One Is Local)

In order to adequately support Virginia (Bs existing industries and provide for additional economic growth, the state will need to make numerous improvements to its surface transportation system. This is according to a new report released today byTRIP, a Washington, D.D.- based national transportation research organization.

TRIP’s report identifies and ranks the projects needed to provide Virginia with a transportation system that can support the increased movement of people, goods and resources throughout the state. The most needed surface transportation improvements in Virginia include 36 projects to build, expand or modernize highways, six projects to improve public transit and eight projects to improve the state’s rail system.

These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Virginia an attractive place to live, visit and do business. According to the TRIP report, the most needed projects for the state’s economic growth are are primarily in the larger urban areas of the commonwealth.

Just one of the Top 10 (widening certain sections of I-81 by two lanes) has a connection to this region. I-95, I-64, I-66 and U.S. 29 are all priorities, as is the Metrorail near Dulles Airport in D.C. and the Hampton Bay Bridge Tunnel and Third Crossing/Patriots Crossing. A full list of needed projects, descriptions and their impact on economic development can be found in the appendix of the report.

“Transportation and education are two key elements of a strong regional economy,” says Ken Lanford, chairman of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and president of Lanford Brothers Company. “The Roanoke Region is fortunate to be strategically situated in an attractive part of Virginia. Expanding and improving our infrastructure, including roads, rails, transit and the efficient flow of goods will further strengthen our economic development efforts.”

Enhancing critical segments of Virginia’s surface transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth, improving the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors.

Sustaining Virginia’s long-term economic growth and maintaining the state’s high quality of life will require increased investment in expanding the capacity of the state’s surface transportation system, which will enhance business productivity and support short- and long-term job creation in the state.

“Virginia can’t get where it wants to go – in both a literal and an economic sense – without an efficient transportation system,” says Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “It is critical that Virginia’s transportation system is adequately funded at the local, state and federal level. Thousands of jobs and the state’s economic well being are riding on it.”

TRIP ranked each transportation project based on a rating system that considered the following: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.

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