Gov. McDonnell (Republican) has proposed to fund a bunch of transportation projects as part of his push to increase the VA state sales tax from 5% to 5.8% with the added revenue going to transportation. The sales tax proposal is rather controversial, but don't want to get into the in and outs of his revenue proposal right now/
The major news for passenger rail is that his proposed new funding through state FY2018 has the following projects listed in this summary page:
$102 million for extending passenger service to Roanoke, mostly spent by FY2016.
$79 million for passenger service to Norfolk (upgrades, Appomattox bridge perhaps?)
$35 million for passenger service to Newport News (further out in FY16 to FY18)
$47 million for capacity Richmond to DC (FY16 to FY18)
$45 million total over 6 years for 6 PRIIA trains.
The Governor's press release states that "Funding for these projects are in addition to the funding in the Commonwealth Transportation Board's current Six-Year Improvement Program". So these funds would be added to the funds already budgeted for the current VA Regional service, various track projects. My take is that this is calling for 6 additional VA Regional trains on top of what VA is planning to pay for. So, 3 daily trains to Norfolk, Newport News, maybe 2 to Roanoke by 2018? With improved trip times in VA as well?
Boardman likes the proposal so much that Amtrak put a news release in support of service to Roanoke.
I think with the Governor pushing for it. that while the sales tax initiative may get watered down. there is real support for extending service to Roanoke in the nearer term and not let it slide until the end of the decade. Maybe having a conservative Republican Governor actively supporting Amtrak service expansion in VA will nidge the Republicans in PA and NC to not step away from Amtrak service in their states.
Edited by afigg, 25 January 2013 - 04:49 PM.