May 12, 2014

Kaine Discusses Regional Transportation Needs At Northern Virginia Roundtable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine hosted a roundtable discussion at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission today with Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation Nick Donohue, Northern Virginia county and local officials, members of the Virginia General Assembly, representatives of Northern Virginia regional transportation bodies, and policy experts to discuss regional transportation priorities and options to pay for much-needed infrastructure. Throughout the discussion, transportation leaders voiced frustration over the impact that budget uncertainty in Congress has on their ability to plan long-term.

“Unreliability in federal funding has a ripple effect that affects both projects and planning,” said Kaine. “As we face the potential of the Highway Trust Fund being insolvent this summer, as we face repeated failures of Congress to grapple with long term transportation policy, and instead we choose to do a patch job for six months or two years, it really makes it hard for local and regional officials to come up with a project list and prioritize what should be done.  I’ve been preaching since I got to the Senate, ‘let’s get back to regular order, let’s do two-year budgets, let’s do meaningful appropriations bills rather than continuing resolutions.’ I certainly heard in this room that with more predictability, we will be better able to tackle these challenges. “

In additional to the impending rapid drawdown of the Highway Trust Fund, the discussion focused on the upcoming expiration of MAP-21, a two-year bill passed in 2012 that necessitated a general fund transfer to fund infrastructure projects, and the importance of ensuring WMATA has the funding it needs to maintain its existing systems and expand its capacity for a growing ridership. Local elected officials and representatives from the transportation bodies expressed optimism about the future of the Silver Line, which recently met two milestones: final approval for a loan to fund Phase II of the project and substantial completion of Phase I. Kaine worked to secure Phase I federal funding for the Silver Line as Governor.

“I’m really excited about moving to ribbon cutting and starting service on Phase I to Wiehle Avenue,” said Kaine. “I’m also very excited about the federal willingness to enable Phase II to go forward, but that does depend on us taking the appropriate steps in Congress to make sure the budget is there, and I’m very committed to that. I believe that immediately upon opening, the Silver Line will be heavily used and will bring about opportunities that will improve quality of life in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC, as well as enable Dulles to be all that it can be.”