By Abby Kloppenburg
Staff Writer, Capital News Service
The House of Delegates voted 69-31 Tuesday to allocate more money to the development of the U.S. Route 58 Corridor.
Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, the bill’s sponsor, said in January that the legislation was one of his top priorities for the spring 2013 session. He has been working on securing funding for different parts of the Route 58 project since he was elected in 2007.
“It’s been pending for a long time, and it’s just something I feel needed to be pushed through,” he said. “Doing so is critical for economic development in [my] region, as well as to support the movement of import and export of goods via the Port of Virginia.”
Poindexter represents the mostly rural Patrick County and parts of Franklin and Henry counties.
Until now, bonds repaid through the Recordation Taxes sector of the General Fund have principally funded the construction project. Most of the bonds, however, have not yet been paid down, so the bill, HB1953, would permit re-borrowing within the current bond limit. In other words, the bill originally allowed contractors to borrow $704 million for the project, and now they can only have that much in unpaid debt. The bill will also move the construction of the Lover’s Leap portion of the highway to top priority.
Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, voted against the bill.
“I feel like [the bill] needs to come back for a larger discussion on how much public money we’re spending on transportation, because that’s a big sum we’re going to be spending every year,” he said. “From here, the debt could turn over and turn over and turn over.”
Right now the bill is pending in the Senate. It should be read by the beginning of next week, according to Alex Thorup, Poindexter’s legislative aide.
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