Va. to get 29 more miles of HOT lanes in $1B project

Paul D. Shinkman,
Mark Segraves,

WASHINGTON – The Virginia Department of Transportation will construct roughly 29 miles of HOT lanes on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia, the governor told WTOP on Tuesday.

Construction on the express lanes project, which will cost almost $920 million, will begin in August. The news follows an agreement between the department and a group of private sector companies.

VDOT will construct the new lanes from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Fairfax County.

“This is one of the most congested spots we have,” McDonnell said on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program. “This is a project we’ve been working on for a while.”

The project should be completed by 2014, he says, and involves 8,000 jobs.

Commuters on this route won’t be the only residents to benefit from newly opened state coffers. McDonnell said the $134 million surplus announced Monday will likely go toward a 3 percent bonus for all state employees, who have gone without a raise for five years.

A majority of the surplus, $90 million, is mandated to go into the state’s rainy day fund.

The state’s financial condition is due to tax cuts and low regulations, McDonnell says, as well as its status as a right-to-work state.

This approach is starkly contrasted against Maryland, which has raised taxes and, unlike Virginia, allows unions to bargain collectively.

“This is the way Mr. Jefferson intended it,” McDonnell says of the third president and second governor of Virginia.

In February, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said in his State of the State speech, “We cannot kid ourselves into thinking that by failing to invest in our future we are somehow saving resources – that we are somehow being clever in saving money, for everything has a cost.”

“Failing to make decisions that are consistent with the best interests of the next generation, this too has a cost,” he said.

McDonnell on Tuesday also criticized D.C.’s efforts to tax Virginia commuters coming in to D.C. to work.

“I don’t see what the basis would be for taxing Virginians merely for the privilege of working in the District,” he says, adding he would also be upset if his state, like D.C., were “hamstrung” by federal budget oversight.

Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.

Learn more about the governor’s take on the NCAA sanctions against PSU, congressional sequestration and the Chick-Fil-A gay marriage controversy.

10:55 a.m., speaking about MWAA appointments:

“It’s exasperating.” Virginia taxpayers pay a majority of the funding for Metro extension, but we are a minority representation. We have gotten two more slots, but I still can’t get D.C. to pass those appointments.

“They need to seat our board members.”

10:53 a.m., speaking about NCAA sanctions on PSU:

I thought they were significant, not just the dollars but the bowl appearances.

“The sad part is it hurts the kids…who are coming in now and had nothing to do with it.”

The sanctions were tough and severe and swift.

“Irresponsible and criminal behavior can’t be tolerated. When administrators and coaches are aware of it, they have to act quickly.”

There will probably be more lawsuits.

“It’s a clarion call to sports people around the country that they have to” police their teams.

10:52 a.m., speaking about Chick-Fil-A/gay marriage controversy:

“I love chicken.”

“If we start having governments issue permits or zoning changes or withholding those because of someone’s political or religious beliefs, we are going down a very bad road.”

“I think people have an ability to start and grow a business regardless of their political beliefs.”

10:46 a.m., speaking about Romney’s perceived gaffes in Europe:

“If you’re an opponent of Gov. Romney, you’re always going to look for the negatives.” A majority of his remarks were excellent.

Unfortunately, this president has been equivocal in support of our greatest ally in the Middle East.

10:45 a.m., speaking about a potential VP bid:

(Top Romney aide mentioned Va. governor among the “deep bench” of VP nominees)

“I’ll tell you next month. Right now I’m excited about my role as the chairman of the platform committee.”

10:43 a.m., speaking about “beer or wine”?:

Both. We have some great craft brewers who have recently signed agreements to start making beer. We’re one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world. And our largest industry is agriculture.

10:42 a.m., speaking about car tax:

Gov. Gilmore led the way to phase that out about 70 percent in 1998. It’s about at 67 percent phased out now, for the last eight years. Many of us would like to see the rest of that, but the fiscal challenges with the state would require billions to do that.

10:36 a.m., speaking about expanding Medicaid:

Medicaid is a broken system. If you expand it, it’s the wrong thing to do and irresponsible.

“Without significant reform, it would not be responsible.”

Referencing upcoming election, “Why would I waste taxpayer dollars in next 100 days if the situation could change drastically by then?”

10:34 a.m., speaking about federal investigations into D.C. leaders, including Mayor Gray:

No comment.

10:32 a.m., speaking about a potential D.C. commuter tax:

We would be upset if we were hamstrung by federal bureaucracy like D.C.

Of what I’ve heard about these proposals, we would not support that.

“I don’t see what the basis would be for taxing Virginians merely for the privilege of working in the District.”

I know governments are strapped. Our approach is to raise revenue through growth, not by taxes.

10:26 a.m., speaking about ACLU questioning of license plate scanner technology:

“I don’t know exactly state police protocols.”

“I’m not particularly familiar with statutes on how long law enforcement orgs can keep that information.

10:22 a.m., speaking about Virginia’s $130 million surplus :

That’s just a spending surplus. $90 million goes to the rainy day fund, bringing it up to $700 million.

Some of it goes to water treatment. Some of it will go to performance bonuses.

If we have proper savings over next couple weeks, we’ll have a 3 percent bonus for state employees.

Maryland has had tax increases in recent years. We’ve taken a different approach. We’ve had targeted tax cuts and keep regulations low. We’re a right-to-work state, Maryland isn’t. That’s a huge advantage.

“This is the way Mr. Jefferson intended it.”

10:17 a.m., speaking about gun purchase restrictions:

The difference is what people choose to do with the guns when they purchase it. That’s the real issue of gun rights.

10:10 a.m., speaking about sequestration (Congress’ self-imposed deadline to come to a resolution about tax breaks, or mandatory cuts take effect automatically):

“The message is simple: Don’t do it, get your act together. Mr. President: Lead.”

“This was never meant to be a policy, it was meant to be a hammer.”

“We are broke.”

It’s nice to have Labor Department guidance here with two months to go, but they still need to act. $600 billion in Defense Department cuts is going to have an effect on our national security.

The president has averaged $1.2-1.5 trillion in deficit spending every year.

The defense department has issued no plans on how that $6 billion in cuts would be allocated.

“There has to be dramatic cuts across the spectrum. That’s what we did in Virginia, and that’s why now we have a surplus. Three years in a row.”

10:04 a.m., speaking about traffic and new HOT lanes project:

“That’s one of the most congested spots we have… This is a project we’ve been working on for a while.”

“It is a well-financed, well-capitalized project.”

It should be completed in late 2014, involves 8,000 jobs. They’re planning to start right away.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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