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Virginia earns D+ for transportation infrastructure

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Virginia received a D+ for its transportation infrastructure in the 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure released Wednesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the same grade that Virginia received four years ago.

The report found that about half of Virginia’s roads are in need of repair, deeming 47 percent of Virginia’s roads to be of poor or mediocre quality. It also found that 1,250 bridges were structurally deficient (9.1 percent of all bridges) and 2,421 bridges functionally obsolete (17.6 percent).

The report estimated that driving on roads in need of repair cost Virginia motorists an extra $254 a year in vehicle repairs and operating costs, or a total of $1.344 billion.

“This report unfortunately confirms what motorists and commuters already know all too well,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement. “As a state government, we have not funded an adequate transportation infrastructure for our citizens.”

McDonnell used the report to tout the $880 million-a-year transportation overhaul passed by the General Assembly this year. McDonnell has until Monday to sign, veto or amend the legislation, which replaces Virginia’s 17.5-cents per gallon gas tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on motor fuels. The plan also raises the sales tax on nonfood items from 5 percent to 5.3 percent, and to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

“Virginians are already paying dearly for the three-decade failure of Richmond to sufficiently and properly fund transportation in the commonwealth,” McDonnell said. “Thankfully, the historic plan that passed this year in the General Assembly, with broad bipartisan support, directly addresses this pressing issue. It is the first major transportation funding bill to pass the General Assembly in 27 years and it will help rebuild our roads after decades of inaction."

The plan has received criticism from some conservative lawmakers for raising taxes, and opponents are questioning the constitutionality of the plan’s regional taxes.

The ASCE report also found that Virginia has 184 “high-hazard” dams, $6.1 billion in water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years, $6.9 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs and $532.8 million in unmet needs for its park system. In addition, the report found that Virginia produces 3.720 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy every year, ranking it 26th among states.

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