WJTV News Channel 12 - Virginia Transportation Bill: How Your Money is Being Spent

Virginia Transportation Bill: How Your Money is Being Spent

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ROANOKE -

The sight and sound of an Amtrak train rolling through Roanoke has alluded Senator John Edwards for the last 18 years.

But soon that train will be a reality.

"This new transportation package is tremendous," said Edwards, (D) 21st District.

That transportation package includes money to bring passenger rail service back to Roanoke for the first time since the 1970's.

While Amtrak is stealing all the headlines in Southwest Virginia, the bill is also pouring much needed money into the Commonwealth's roads and highways.

"There's plenty of money to help our roads, to build our roads, to maintain our roads," Edwards said. "This is something that we've been working on and I've been working on for a long, long time."

That money is giving agencies like the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) flexibility, something they've lacked for decades.

"We haven't been adding a lot of new projects for development into our program because we just haven't had the dollars," said VDOT Spokesperson Jason Bond.

VDOT is hopeful that problem will soon be in the rearview mirror.

The governor's office is projecting the new bill will raise nearly $6 billion over the next five years.

The money is set aside for a combination of new road construction, road maintenance, and the expansion of passenger rail service.

That's good news for VDOT, although Bond said where the money will go is still a wildcard.

"We don't know what projects will get added to the program, we don't know what projects may get accelerated that are already in the program," he said. "It's difficult to know specific impacts for the future of what the new funds will mean for our area yet."

The new money won't affect projects already on the agenda in 2013 like the Elm Avenue and Valley View interchanges.

Both projects are slated to begin within the next few months.

That means paving and road maintenance is where you'll notice the money being spent initially.

While it's too early to say which roads will be fixed, potholes are high on VDOT's priority list.

"The condition of our pavement is aging," Bond said. "We haven't been able to get out there and pave as much. So Virginians will probably see that at least in the immediate future because of this new money. We'll see some additional paving particularly this summer."

As for long term projects VDOT will be releasing a six year planning draft in a few weeks detailing major construction that can now become a reality thank to the transportation bill.

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