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McDonnell announces additional transportation plans

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Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to allow the state to sell naming rights to its bridges, highways and interchanges.

Revenues collected through annual naming fees would be used for highway maintenance and operations, although the fees and revenue projections have not yet been provided.

McDonnell unveiled a number of additional proposals to his transportation agenda on Friday.  Those included the creation of a Virginia Toll Road Authority to operate toll facilities, increasing the number of seats Virginia has on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and a number of incentives targeted to growing business at the Port of Virginia.

The port proposals include extending the port facilities tax credits passed by last year’s General Assembly beyond 2015. It also changes requirements for appointees on the Virginia Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners. The proposal would increase from three to five members must reside in one of the port-area localities, but it eliminate the current rule that regulates with individual localities local members must represent. Instead, it says the commissioners must have executive level experience and represent specific industries affected by port operations.

Another proposal would create incentives for outside companies to establish port-related operations in a newly created Route 460 Corridor Interstate 85 Connector Economic Development Zone. These tax exemptions would apply to companies not already operating in Virginia that established port-related operations in the zone after 2015. This is the same year the expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be complete, and the Port of Virginia is hoping to capture increased cargo traffic from new megaships that will be able to travel the canal.

Location in the zone would offer a partial or full exemption of Virginia’s corporate tax rate for the first two taxable years on income generated inside the zone for companies that created at least 25 full-time jobs. The exemption would be greater as the number of jobs created rose. At 100 jobs or more, a company would be fully exempt from the tax.

The incentive would be applied to companies locating in the counties of Isle of Wight, Prince George, Sussex, and Southampton and the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.

In addition, McDonnell wants to create a Port Opportunity Fund to develop a marketing and incentives program to increase cargo volume through the port.  The fund would be created with 5 percent of the Virginia Port Authority’s annual net operating income.


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