The Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday to require Northern Virginia transit transportation projects be evaluated and selected for funding pursuant to the same standards as all other transportation projects. Projects selected and funded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority are required to undergo a standardized evaluation similar to the statewide model created by “House Bill 2,” adopted in 2014. Transit projects were previously exempt from this standard.
“Starting with Delegate LeMunyon’s legislation in 2012 and continuing with Delegate Stolle’s bill in 2014, the House of Delegates has been working to require that all of Virginia’s transportation projects be evaluated based on a series of objective, metric-based standards,” said House Speaker William J. Howell. “Delegate LaRock’s bill build on that work. Transit projects deserve no special treatment and should be evaluated against the same rigorous standards as all other transportation projects. Our job is to get the most bang for our buck in transportation spending, not pick winners and losers by elevating transit ahead of other projects.”
Delegate Dave LaRock’s House Bill 1470 requires transit projects in Northern Virginia be evaluated in accordance with the prioritization standard created by Delegate Jim LeMunyon’s HB 599, passed in 2012. Delegate LeMuyon’s legislation is similar to House Bill 2, which requires that the Virginia Department of Transportation to develop a system of quantifiable objective metrics to measure each project’s potential impact on congestion relief, economic development, accessibility, safety, and environmental quality. Beginning in 2016, projects will be selected and prioritized based on these criteria.
“We have an obligation to be wise and responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and transit projects should not be exempt from the same tough standards as all other transportation projects,” said Delegate LaRock. “All transportation projects, including transit, should be objectively measured in accordance with the priorities outlined by the General Assembly. This is an important reform that will promote greater accountability and guard against wasteful transportation projects.
Delegate LaRock added, “Northern Virginia is one of the most congested regions in the nation and that continues to stifle economic growth. Alleviating congestion is critical to the long-term prosperity of our region and in order to do that, we must subject all of our transportation projects to a performance-based analysis to ensure that every dollar goes as far as possible.”
House Bill 2, introduced by Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) was passed unanimously in 2014 and requires VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to develop and implement a prioritization model that uses quantifiable metrics to select transportation projects based on congestion mitigation, safety, economic development, accessibility and environmental quality. This legislation applies to projects funded through the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s six-year plan.
House Bill 599 was introduced by Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-Fairfax) and passed by the House of Delegates in 2012. This legislation requires projects selected and funded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to be evaluated similarly to the requirements of House Bill 2.
House Bill 1470 (LaRock) eliminates the exemption for transit projects, requiring transit projects funded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to be evaluated on the same performance-based standard as all other transportation projects.