Hampton Roads once again is getting less than its fair share of state funding to build and improve roads, a transportation official said Tuesday.
The state's proposed revisions to the six-year roadbuilding plan are "a severe blow in tough financial times when we need the help the most," said Dwight Farmer, executive director of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.
Many improvements to local highways have been slashed over the past year and a half as the Virginia Department of Transportation cut $4.6 billion out of the road-building budget. In this most recent round, funding is set to be eliminated for widening Interstate 64 on the Peninsula and improving the I- 64/I-264 interchange.
Farmer outlined "issues of great concern" in a letter presented at a public hearing Tuesday night in Richmond. He noted that while the state is proposing an overall increase of about 3 percent in the fiscal year 2010 budget for road construction, Hampton Roads' share would decrease by 13 percent.
Hampton Roads is the only area in the state that would have a reduction, Farmer said . Northern Virginia would see a 5 percent boost in funding.
In addition, the region would get no interstate funds in 2011, which Farmer said is unprecedented. In that same year, Northern Virginia would get $225 million, or 93.2 percent of the state's interstate money.
Farmer said Hampton Roads' funding outlook improves in 2015 with nearly $100 million in interstate allocations. But the six-year plans are revised regularly, and Farmer wrote that he has "no confidence that the strategy would hold for the long term."
Over the six years, Hampton Roads would get 15.3 percent of interstate funds and Northern Virginia would get 66.5 percent. The remaining 18.2 percent would go to the rest of the state.
A planning organization analysis conducted after the last round of transportation cuts over the summer shows that during a 12-year period, the region's share of state interstate funding is 16.6 percent, compared with Northern Virginia's 57.6 percent. Farmer also criticized VDOT's strategy to direct limited funding to projects already under way or about to get under way.
"This practice makes it virtually impossible for Hampton Roads to advance any new interstate projects due to the lack of funding required to make the projects ready to go," he stated in the letter.
Tuesday's public hearing was on VDOT's proposal to cut $851.5 million from road-building operations over the next six years. The cuts would be made mostly to VDOT administration, highway maintenance and equipment purchases. The total plan, however, remains approximately the same , at $7.6 billion.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to vote on the revisions Dec. 17 .
Debbie Messina, (757) 446-2588, debbie.messina@ pilotonline.com