McDonnell Roads Plan would Grow Economy by $13 billion

Report indicates the plan would pump $13 billion into state economies and create more than 100,000 jobs over six years.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnells $4 billion transportation plan would pump about $13 billion into the states economy and create more than 100,000 jobs over the next six years, according to a report prepared for the states Department of Transportation.

The report is based on a list of about 900 projects totaling $4.4 billion that could benefit from the plan. The estimated economic effect in Northern Virginia totals about $2.3 billion and would generate nearly 17,000 jobs between 2012 and 2017.

The analysis from Chmura Economics and Analytics, a Richmond consulting firm, reinforces that the program will not only address the needs of the aging highway system upon which we all depend, but it will also provide a needed injection of funding into our economy to spur recovery from the difficult recession of the past several years, McDonnell said.

The $4 billion plan comes mostly from borrowing accelerating already approved state bonds and issuing about $1 billion in federally backed bonds. The report estimates that construction spending would total $7.2 billion after adding money that could be leveraged through public-private partnerships and leaving out money for previously committed projects.

Nearly $6 billion would come from secondary sources such as site preparation and jobs in consumer service industries during construction.

Some of the investments are pretty critical, because absent them you have a project sitting there 80 percent complete because you dont have the money, said Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.

Indeed, much of the money would be used not to start new projects, but to supplement existing projects or restore money for projects that were removed from the states Six-Year Improvement Program.

Construction on the Beltway high-occupancy toll lanes project, for example, has been going on for some time. One project that is new is a $32 million active traffic management system for Interstate 66, which would adjust speed limits based on the amount of congestion and warn drivers of backups.

Are there roads that need to be widened and improved in Northern Virginia? You bet, said Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D- Fairfax. And a lot of those will be built. I think we fared OK in that. I mean, nobody ever gets enough when it comes to transportation.