RD57 - Vital Infrastructure Report – Budget Item 450.H.
This report addresses the requirements of Chapter 2 of the 2018 General Assembly Item 450, H. (as detailed below), which requires the Commonwealth Transportation Board (“the Board") to develop a report that addresses the following topics regarding Virginia’s large and unique bridge and tunnel structures:
• The overall condition and funding needs;
Budget Language - Chapter 2, 2018 Appropriation Act, Item 450
H. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall, no later than December 1, 2018, review and report to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on Transportation, the Joint Transportation Accountability Commission, the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committees on Finance, on the overall condition and funding needs of large and unique bridge and tunnel structures in the Commonwealth. As part of the review, the Board shall make recommendations addressing funding of such projects within the State of Good Repair program. In developing these recommendations the Board shall assess the impact of establishing a set aside from the State of Good Repair funding pot, limited use of the provisions of § 33.2-369 B., Code of Virginia, which allows for the waiving of district minimum caps in a single year, or such other options as they might identify.
For over a decade, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has used an asset management approach to (i) manage the Highway Maintenance and Operations Program, (ii) allocate funds to assets (e.g. pavements) and services (e.g. snow removal) and (iii) provide historical and projected performance on pavements and bridges. As part of its ongoing asset management approach, VDOT identified a group of structures that, if allowed to deteriorate to poor condition or fail, would pose significant risks to the efficient movement of people and goods. These structures have been assigned the term “VITAL" Infrastructure (Very Large, Indispensable, Transportation Asset List) which includes tunnels, movable bridges, and large complex fixed-span structures. As of the fall of 2018, 25 structures throughout the Commonwealth met this definition. These 25 structures were built as recently as one year ago to as far back as 80 years ago. As new infrastructure is added to the highway system, such as the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) expansion currently under procurement, the list will continue to grow. Photographs and informational highlights of the individual VITAL Infrastructure identified by VDOT are shown in Appendix A.
VDOT developed the VITAL Infrastructure 30-Year Plan (the Plan), using an asset management approach, which focuses on timely rehabilitation and preservation actions to maintain the structures in fair or good condition. However, when VITAL Infrastructure deteriorates to the point where rehabilitation is no longer cost-effective, the Plan includes the replacement cost for the specified structures. The total estimated cost of the Plan, over 30 years, is $3.6 billion in 2018 dollars. Included within the Plan are the needs for the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) trestles and the High Rise Bridge that are planned to be replaced as part of existing projects. These structures are included in the Plan in case unforeseen circumstances should arise that would preclude these structures from being addressed. The table on page 2 summarizes the Plan needs for the next 30 years in 2018 dollars in 10 year increments.
In 2015, the General Assembly established new funding allocation processes and programs. One program, the State of Good Repair (SGR) Program was dedicated for pavement and bridge rehabilitation around the Commonwealth. Current forecasted SGR Program allocations for FY 2019 through FY 2024 total $1.3 billion. Of this $1.3 billion, $328 million is available for allocation to pavements rated Poor and below and $961 million is available for allocation to bridges that are considered structurally deficient or Poor.
As previously stated, the total amount projected for the SGR Program from FY 2019 - FY 2024 is $1.3 billion. The VITAL Infrastructure need for this same period is $1 billion (starting with Year 1 through Year 6 in Appendix B). If the SGR Program were to be used to fully fund the VITAL Infrastructure capital investment needs, the amount of funding remaining for deteriorated pavements and bridges would be only $300 million in total over the same six-year period.
The purpose of the SGR Program is to fund pavement and bridges rated Poor or less that are maintained by VDOT and localities through an asset management approach. VITAL Infrastructure is largely excluded from the SGR Program because (i) tunnels are not part of the SGR Program definition in the Code of Virginia and (ii) VDOT strives to maintain VITAL Infrastructure to a sufficient level where its rating would not qualify for the SGR Program. By analyzing the impact of funding VITAL Infrastructure funding needs from the SGR Program, the analysis shows legislative changes would be required to make the VITAL Infrastructure eligible in the SGR Program. In addition, addressing the VITAL Infrastructure needs would consume a majority of the SGR Program funding.
VDOT’s Maintenance and Operations Program supports the ordinary maintenance and operations of these structures and of all other existing highway assets in the Commonwealth under VDOT management. The Maintenance and Operations Program is also used to fund emergency and major rehabilitations/repairs for the VITAL Infrastructure, which diverts funding from planned operations and maintenance activities, requiring VDOT to regularly reprioritize spending. The Maintenance and Operations Program funds services such as paving, safety service patrols, snow and ice removal, and other emergency and incident management activities. The current funding projections reflect the Maintenance and Operations Program will increase annually by the rate of inflation. VDOT’s asset management focus and investment has emphasized bridges and pavements. This emphasis has impacted the ability to fund other assets, including VITAL Infrastructure.
The Budget Language asked the Board to assess the impact of funding the VITAL Infrastructure through the SGR Program. The magnitude of the need when examined on its own would effectively deplete the SGR Program and nearly eliminate the ability of the SGR Program to address deteriorated pavements and deficient bridges. Instead of presenting this impact and outlook with a singular focus on VITAL Infrastructure asset management, VDOT is requesting additional time to examine a comprehensive approach to integrating pavements, bridges, and VITAL Infrastructure into the existing maintenance and construction programs and determining the resulting impacts. Assessing the impact of funding VITAL Infrastructure independently will not provide a clear view of the true impacts of a VITAL Infrastructure program that is effectively woven into the various transportation programs in a programmatic manner.