Va. highway, road repairs lagging

Sunday - 6/19/2011, 10:24am EDT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Transportation is spending $318.3 million on road maintenance this year, less than half the state's pavement repair needs.

VDOT estimates the cost of Virginia's current highway pavement maintenance needs at $708.9 million.

Revenue for the state's transportation improvement program declined by $4 billion during the national slowdown, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Sunday. The primary funding source for road work is the 17.5-cent-a-gallon gas tax, enacted in 1987. It has not been increased since.

The condition of the interstate and primary systems falls well short of VDOT's goals for pavement condition, according to a state transportation report.

Most of the state's road mileage _ more than 48,000 miles of local roads _ is in the secondary system. Secondary roads are in even worse shape than the interstates and primaries, with 34.2 percent deficient, VDOT said.

"These conditions have a direct effect on safety of motorists and can lead to higher average car repair costs from pothole damage," said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Cars and trucks drive more than 220 million miles every day on Virginia's roads, the department said.

"If you look at the roads we're getting, and the volumes we have on them today, and the type of traffic we have on them today, there's no way you can expect them to hold up," said R. John McCracken, director of Chesterfield's Transportation Department.

State Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton points to the growing number of potholes _ more than 108,000 during Gov. Bob McDonnell's 2011 pothole blitz.

"At first, we thought it was an indication that our crews were more aggressive in filling potholes," Connaughton said. "Actually, what the numbers show is an indication of the deterioration of the pavement."

An annual technical surveys of Virginia's roads show that interstate, primary and secondary systems all experienced significant declines in their pavement condition in the past three years.

Virginia's spending for all highway and transit infrastructure will increase by $2.6 billion during the state's next six-year transportation plan, according to VDOT.

The money from the transportation funding package will make the state's $11.2 billion road and public transit capital improvement program for 2012-17 the largest new investment in transportation in a decade or more.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com


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