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Virginia Governor proposes funds for Roanoke Extension


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#41 Anderson

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:35 PM

Just spoke to some people in Richmond, and the feeling is that Cuccinelli will try and cut taxes off of the surplus in the general fund and mess with the Medicare side of the deal, but that he won't try to do anything to the transportation projects themselves.  IIRC, he was in favor of the deal (albeit with some hand-wringing) until the Dems heaped Medicare-related demands (which have nothing to do with transportation) into the mix.


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#42 afigg

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 12:08 AM

Somehow it feels like we won the battle but lost the war. This bill is going to come back and haunt us down the road when the lack of real new funding for transportation - that this bill ignores - comes home to roost. But that will be long enough down the road that the people who "crafted" this mess will have moved on to screwing up greater things!

There is substantial new funding for transportation in the bill, even though the bill is ridiculously complicated. Northern VA and Hampton Roads will see the sales tax increase to 6% with the revenue from the extra 0.7% over the new state sales tax level to go to local transportation projects. The 3.5% wholesale tax on gasoline is set to increase by 1.6% in January 2015 if Congress does not pass a bill allowing states to collect taxes on internet sales. Since Congress can't agree on anything these days, the odds of the increase are probably quote good. Diesel is subject to a 6% wholesales tax which should work out to an increase over the 17.5 cents sales tax. I hope the Wash Post or someone will post a complete summary of what is in the compromise bill, because it is a mess.

 

Looking at the additional expenditures McDonnell proposed in January, it has the spending on capital costs for the Roanoke extension and Norfolk service expansion mostly spent by FY2017 with DC to Richmond funding picking up after that. If the state budget maintains the ~$50 million a year in additional passenger rail spending after that in combination with the current funded levels, the logical step would be to spend those annual funds on DC to Richmond Main Street upgrades as the EIS work is completed and pursue restoration of service through Main Street to Petersburg. Once there are 3 daily trains to Norfolk, there will be political pressure and support to spend the funds to enable the trains to go through Main Street Station and downtown Richmond. Quite a lot can get accomplished over time with $50 to $100 million a year in capital project state funding if the Governor and state legislatures don't divert the funds. Even more if there is federal funding available with a 20% state match.



#43 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 06:25 AM

 
There is substantial new funding for transportation in the bill, even though the bill is ridiculously complicated.  


Thanks for summarizing and sharing what are undoubtedly most of the major parts of this monster! :hi:

 

I agree that it should help provide more money for badly needed transportation projects and programs.  Amtrak and Metro's Silver Line have emerged from the chaos with more funding and the future of rail here in the Old Dominion is looking good... depending on who wins the Governor's race this year.  On that note, one of the more interesting political aspects of this is how it has opened a fissure in the Republican Party in the state, with some still hammering on their 'no new taxes drum,' while others realized that the state is in deep doo doo when it comes to keeping things moving in the more developed parts of the state.  However, IMHO, while it helps the situation, I think this bill will ultimately do more for the Governor's political aspirations than it will to relieve congestion in the long term.


Edited by The Davy Crockett, 25 February 2013 - 06:26 AM.

I wish I was a headlight on a northbound of the border train.

#44 Anderson

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 07:35 AM

 
There is substantial new funding for transportation in the bill, even though the bill is ridiculously complicated.  


Thanks for summarizing and sharing what are undoubtedly most of the major parts of this monster! :hi:

 

I agree that it should help provide more money for badly needed transportation projects and programs.  Amtrak and Metro's Silver Line have emerged from the chaos with more funding and the future of rail here in the Old Dominion is looking good... depending on who wins the Governor's race this year.  On that note, one of the more interesting political aspects of this is how it has opened a fissure in the Republican Party in the state, with some still hammering on their 'no new taxes drum,' while others realized that the state is in deep doo doo when it comes to keeping things moving in the more developed parts of the state.  However, IMHO, while it helps the situation, I think this bill will ultimately do more for the Governor's political aspirations than it will to relieve congestion in the long term.

Based on the read I'm getting from some circles, it's probably put a bullet in them.  He's not going to be able to claim getting rid of the gas tax (which was likely his main intent with this), he hiked the sales tax while the state is running a surplus, and he had to agree to Medicare expansion to get it through the Senate.  That's two strikes for no gained advantage.

 

Actually, to be quite candid, it was a mixed bag bill but it was better than losing rail service, so I supported the bill with a clothespin over my nose.  However, with that said (and yes, I recognize this is political, but so be it), Bob McDonnell will very likely never get my support at the primary level ever again.  This bill was a horribly-coordinated mess, it was thrown out there without any political consultation with his caucus (they were informed a few hours in advance), and it did all the wrong things on tax policy.  Unless we get stuck with him as a nominee again, I'm probably done with him for good.  I'm glad we got something through, but it's a real piece of work.


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#45 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 08:45 AM

 
Based on the read I'm getting from some circles, it's probably put a bullet in them.  


Anderson, You make good points about this. The angle I see in this is that Gov. McDonnell got BOTH Democrats and Republicans to agree to something that at least does something to address the transportation woes the state faces, even if - as you put it - everyone had to put a clothespin on their collective noses to do it.  As sequestration looms, and the two parties seem ever farther apart, this is no small accomplishment and could give Mr. McDonnell an angle that few other politicians seem willing to embrace, as they see it as touching the third rail.  Will this work for him?  Time will tell, just as it will for the new legislation.


Edited by The Davy Crockett, 25 February 2013 - 08:47 AM.

I wish I was a headlight on a northbound of the border train.

#46 Anderson

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:30 PM

I see your points as well.  I guess the way I see it, he'll do well for himself in a general election...but I think he damaged his odds in a primary given how much he gave away in the deal.


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#47 afigg

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:05 AM

Don't want to get too sidetracked on discussing Gov. McDonnell's political plans, because once he steps down as Governor of Virginia, he is no longer a key player in Amtrak expansion and service in the state. McDonnell has hurt himself in the presidential process in the Republican primaries, but those are 3 years away and much of the immediate flap will have faded. Besides if McDonnell does run for President, he would really be running for a Vice-President slot on the ticket as whoever gets the Republican nomination may pick him for the swing state electoral votes. But enough on that.

 

What I will be interested to see if there are carryover effects in MD and PA from Virginia raising taxes to pay for transportation.

 

MD is facing the same short fall in funding with a fixed excise tax that has not been increased in decades and has kicked the can down the road before on either raising the gas tax or other revenue sources for transportation. There is a proposal to add a 3% wholesale tax on gasoline to adjust for inflation over the past several decades. The Purple Line and Baltimore Red Line LRT projects and plans for MARC expansion are at risk without increased state funding being made available. Both the Purple Line and Baltimore Red Line would directly connect to the NEC so they would increase the value of the NEC as a corridor. The Purple Line would terminate at New Carrolton, running to College Park & UMD, Silver Spring, Bethesda. That could boost Amtrak ridership at New Carrolton with a faster trip to PHL, NYP from College Park than taking the Metro south to Union Station. So what happens in MD for increased transportation revenue would have implications for Amtrak. As does what happens in PA and MA.

 



#48 trainviews

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:23 AM

In general gas taxes as a percentage is an even worse idea than a fixed amount. Historically gas prices have been fluctuating a lot. A percentage tax will make it almost unforseeable how much the tax brings in and it worsens the gas price fluctuations, which are damaging to the general economy.

 

The problem with fixed amount taxes is that they get outrun by inflation, but they have the advantage of mitigating oil price shocks (this is why these fluctuations create much less fuzz in Europe. Without discussing other pros and cons of gas tax levels,with the high gas taxes here half of the price or so at the pump is tax, so a dollar a gallon increase in wholesale gas prices creates a much lower price increase percentagewise on the already high prices at the pump. Prices people are accustomed to and have already factored into their personal economies)

 

So the sensible way to do it in my oppinion is a fixed amount tax, which automatically regulates itself upward with general inflation. This would more or less secure revenues, but I guess a selfregulating tax, even if pretty low, would be very hard to get through...



#49 Ryan

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:18 AM

The problem in Maryland is that Annapolis has a history of dipping into the transportation fund for other uses.

I'd wholeheartedly support a gas tax increase if it actually went toward transportation, but I'm lukewarm on supporting it of they're just going to siphon the extra funds off (no pun intended) for other uses.

Edited by Ryan, 26 February 2013 - 08:18 AM.

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#50 Ryan

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:22 PM

While many details are still missing, here is my Delegate's (as in the Virginia House of Delegates) take on the agreement. 
 
 
Interesting take on the agreement, but HOLY COW! What a breath of fresh air to have an elected representative that interacts with their constituents without just regurgitating some talking points and isn't afraid to say "I'm not sure, I'm still considering where I stand on this".

I knew I liked this guy!

He was on the local news tonight talking about his opposition to the $100 Hybrid tax.

Look what's behind him. :)

scott_surovell.jpg

He's got a petition going to try and stop the hybrid tax you can sign if you're so inclined.

http://scottsurovell...hybrid-tax.html

Edited by Ryan, 01 March 2013 - 06:27 PM.

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#51 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:35 PM

While many details are still missing, here is my Delegate's (as in the Virginia House of Delegates) take on the agreement. 
 
 
Interesting take on the agreement, but HOLY COW! What a breath of fresh air to have an elected representative that interacts with their constituents without just regurgitating some talking points and isn't afraid to say "I'm not sure, I'm still considering where I stand on this".

I knew I liked this guy!

He was on the local news tonight talking about his opposition to the $100 Hybrid tax.

Look what's behind him. :)

scott_surovell.jpg

He's got a petition going to try and stop the hybrid tax you can sign if you're so inclined.

http://scottsurovell...hybrid-tax.html

 

 

That is too funny!  :P  :excl:  I wonder if the posters are his, or in his office.  If so, I had no idea he was an Amtrak fan, but he seems to understand we can't just keep building highways to ever more sprawl spread out over ever greater distances and expect to be able to afford them.

 

I signed the petition.  It has gotten 5,000 signatures in just 5 days.

 

THANKS! :hi: for a great laugh, Ryan!


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#52 Ryan

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:43 PM

I signed as well.

It looked to me like the interview was done in his house.
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#53 Dixie

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 08:58 PM

Bring it on ...
Anxiously awaiting passenger service in Bristol one of these decades ... 



#54 Ryan

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 05:30 PM

Nice positive story in today's Roanoke times about the train coming to town...

http://www.roanoke.c...ng-forward.html
The fact that engineers and consultants are beginning the practical work of giving Roanoke its long-sought passenger train service has lent the project new realism. Unless there’s an unexpected glitch in funding the plan, “I don’t know anything that would hold it up now,” said Wayne Strickland, who directs the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.

“Before it was a kind of a ‘maybe’ and ‘if we eventually get the funding, we’re going to do it,’ ” Strickland said.

Kevin Page, chief operating officer of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the lead state agency, brought Roanoke region officials up to date on the project last week.

“Next Stop Roanoke!” read one slide in his presentation; another gave the date as “approx. 2016 - 2017.”

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#55 afigg

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 03:53 PM

News update on the Roanoke extension: Governor McDonnell Announces Signed Agreement to Extend Amtrak Virginia Service to Roanoke (VA press release). McDonnell, who has only several days left in his term, may have rushed this to get the agreement signed with NS, which is not a bad thing because these studies and negotiations all too often drag on and on. Excerpts from the press release:

 

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and Norfolk Southern Corporation have entered into an agreement to improve rail related infrastructure between Lynchburg and Roanoke. The improvements will allow passenger rail to once again serve the Roanoke Region. Governor McDonnell's 2013 transportation funding plan was instrumental in funding the return of intercity passenger rail service to Roanoke.

 

"DRPT and Norfolk Southern continue their strong partnership to advance intercity passenger rail service in the state of Virginia," said Governor McDonnell. "Intercity passenger rail service is central to the Commonwealth's economic growth, vitality and competitiveness in the region. Now the major population centers will have intercity passenger rail service.

...

Included in this agreement are track additions and realignments, signal and communication upgrades along the route, clearance adjustments, and a platform and train servicing facility in downtown Roanoke. Design work will begin immediately. In another effort funded by the Commonwealth and Norfolk Southern, the downtown Roanoke rail connections are currently being reconfigured to improve the flow of train traffic through Roanoke, which is a prerequisite to reintroducing passenger rail service.

 

I'll have to keep an eye out for a report or document detailing the track upgrades and the costs. Anyway, onward to Roanoke! (in 2017 give or take).



#56 afigg

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 06:30 PM

More information in the news reports on the Roanoke extension. Roanoke Times: 2017 set as target for passenger rail arrival in Roanoke. The target date is September, 2017, but it might be sooner. The cost is $92.7 million  which, from reports I saw elsewhere, includes several projects to increase clearance on the other NS E-W line so some freight traffic can be shifted off of the Lynchburg-Roanoke tracks.

 

 



#57 nferr

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 08:38 PM

I also heard that they run busses from Lynchburg to Roanoke to connect to and from the Lynchburg train - and the buses are having high demand. So Roanoke is certainly doing their part to get real rail service.

 Yup I took a trip down there in November from Bridgeport. One train from Bridgeport to Lynchburg and the bus waits for the train right outside the station. $4 for the bus and it took about an hour i think to get to Roanoke. Same thing on the return. And the busses were pretty full. And Roanoke is a great rail town. That restored passenger station is right at the NS train yard. Across the street from a big famous restored railroad hotel (forgot the name). And it's true there's enough space upstairs in the station for Amtrak use IMO. They did tear up the access to the tracks though. 



#58 Anderson

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 11:49 PM

 

I also heard that they run busses from Lynchburg to Roanoke to connect to and from the Lynchburg train - and the buses are having high demand. So Roanoke is certainly doing their part to get real rail service.

 Yup I took a trip down there in November from Bridgeport. One train from Bridgeport to Lynchburg and the bus waits for the train right outside the station. $4 for the bus and it took about an hour i think to get to Roanoke. Same thing on the return. And the busses were pretty full. And Roanoke is a great rail town. That restored passenger station is right at the NS train yard. Across the street from a big famous restored railroad hotel (forgot the name). And it's true there's enough space upstairs in the station for Amtrak use IMO. They did tear up the access to the tracks though. 

 

It's the Roanoke Hotel, IIRC.  From what I understand, bus traffic is somewhere around 10-12k/yr.  It doesn't sound amazing, but it's not a trivial amount of ridership for a bus that comes and goes at very off hours.


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#59 Guest_Sactobob_*

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 11:50 PM

The plan is to NOT use the old station building/museum, I believe mainly because of track configurations and conflict with freight movements.     A new facility will be build further west and on the south side of the tracks  next to downtown.   



#60 Ryan

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 08:02 AM

I also heard that they run busses from Lynchburg to Roanoke to connect to and from the Lynchburg train - and the buses are having high demand. So Roanoke is certainly doing their part to get real rail service.

 Yup I took a trip down there in November from Bridgeport. One train from Bridgeport to Lynchburg and the bus waits for the train right outside the station. $4 for the bus and it took about an hour i think to get to Roanoke. Same thing on the return. And the busses were pretty full. And Roanoke is a great rail town. That restored passenger station is right at the NS train yard. Across the street from a big famous restored railroad hotel (forgot the name). And it's true there's enough space upstairs in the station for Amtrak use IMO. They did tear up the access to the tracks though.

It's the Roanoke Hotel, IIRC.  From what I understand, bus traffic is somewhere around 10-12k/yr.  It doesn't sound amazing, but it's not a trivial amount of ridership for a bus that comes and goes at very off hours.


Close, it's the Hotel Roanoke - now owned by Virginia Tech. :D
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