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Va. budget shortfall to have some impact on transportation side

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s massive projected budget shortfall will likely hit transportation projects, but it is not clear yet exactly how.

“At least from the general fund, our retail sales side, things are not looking as rosy as they did in June,” John Lawson, chief financial officer of Virginia Department of Transportation, told the Commonwealth Transportation Board last week.

But transportation-specific revenue — such as the gas tax that funds things like highway maintenance — is slightly ahead of projections through August.

The statewide budget shortfall is $1.5 billion from the year that ended in June through July 2019, with a $360 million reduction in transportation from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2022.

Because of the uncertainty — and the fact that the projected transportation reduction in the current year that began in July is only $32 million — Lawson recommended waiting to take action until the next five-year plan takes shape in the spring.

In addition to the statewide funding reductions, Northern Virginia is now projected to have $87.8 million less through 2022 than originally expected, including a $13.9 million drop this year. Hampton Roads, the other region that gets regional funding, is projected to be down $38.8 million overall and $6 million this year.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said last month that no transportation projects that have already been announced would be impacted by cuts. He will take your questions 10 a.m. Wednesday on WTOP’s Ask the Governor.

Like states across the nation, Virginia has a large backlog of maintenance and construction projects.

Ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline, local governments and regional bodies have already submitted more than $4 billion worth of project requests for funding through Virginia’s statewide scoring system, Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said. The Commonwealth Transportation Board expects to have about $750 million to award through the program.

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