Transport board wants public input

An appointed board that prioritizes Virginia’s road projects is looking for input on which road projects the cash-strapped Virginia Department of Transportation should tackle in the next six years.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board meets Wednesday at the Fairfax Government Center for a regional public hearing, which local elected officials will also attend.

The hearing kicks off the annual process through which the CTB decides which road, rail and pedestrian projects will be funded during 2008-2013.

“There are terrific challenges with the limited funding and, of course, with the congestion in Northern Virginia,” said Joan Morris, VDOT spokeswoman. “This is a meeting the public can attend and help us shape the program for the coming year.”

Projects are first chosen on the need for safety improvements. Congestion relief and public transit receive the least priority.

Last year’s six-year plan saw a nearly 50 percent drop in public transit funds.

“Money is tight so we’re focusing more on completing projects that are under way and making sure they are fully funded instead of considering a long list of new projects,” Morris said.

This is not the first year that money is tight.

Road building revenues are shrinking and construction costs are rising sharply.

In last year’s $7.1 billion plan, the highway construction fund was smaller than in prior years. VDOT officials are now focusing on interstate projects that receive federal funding to supplement state money.

In total, there was an $800 million reduction in the primary, secondary and urban funds between the six-year plans for fiscal 2006 and 2007.

Construction on primary and interstate roads with route numbers between 1 and 599 are under the CTB’s purview, Morris said. Other roads with route numbers are handled on the local level, Morris said.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a briefing for local elected officials by Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer.

The public is welcome to attend the briefing, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session, open house and a public comment hearing.

This fiscal year’s 2007-2012 plan can be accessed online at

Comments can be read into the record at Wednesday’s meeting, mailed,

e-mailed or faxed to VDOT.

If you go

Commonwealth Transportation Board holds its annual public hearing on the fiscal year 2008-2013 six-year plan at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

If you cannot attend, send your comments on rail and public transportation to Public Information Officer, DRPT, 1313 E. Main St., Suite 300, Richmond, VA 23219, or [email protected] and on highway projects to Programming Director, VDOT, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219, or [email protected] up to 10 calendar days after the meeting.