Transportation Package Highlights Funding New Rail Authority, Safety Measures

Governor Ralph Northam and legislative leaders announced support for a transportation package that addesses safety and funding improvements for rail and transit. Outlined in House Bill 1414 and Senate Bill 890, the measures would establish several new transportation programs.

The package details the Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program, which is intended to address safety through the implimentation of the following policies:

  • Banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving
  • Banning open containers of alcohol in vehicles
  • Making failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense
  • Enhancing speed enforcement
  • Allow localities to lower speed limits

Also outlined are the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and the Transit Incentive Program, both of which would seek to improve rail service across the Commonwealth. Specifically, the intiatives involve expanding passenger and commuter rail service, Long Bridge rail expansion across the Potomac River, and promoting regional routes.

Other proposed funding supports a variety of transportation measures: 

  • Smart Scale, the data-driven model for new capacity transportation projects;
  • Interstates, secondary and city streets to meet safety and performance targets; 
  • Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to help restore funding for regional priorities;
  • I-81 Debt Authorization to accelerate $2 billion program of projects; and
  • Matching Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) funds for WMATA
  • Critical or Special bridges and tunnels 

The Office of the Governor’s full January 27th, 2020 press release regarding the transportation package is available here: Governor Northam and Legislative Leaders Highlight Plan to Improve Driver Safety, Modernize Transportation System