RD11 - I-81 Program Progress Report – December 2021
In April 2019, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation that Governor Ralph Northam signed into law establishing the Interstate 81 (I-81) Corridor Improvement Program and Fund, which advances the projects identified in the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan (the Plan) for implementation. The Plan was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (the Board) in December 2018 following an evaluation of the corridor. Chapters 837 and 846 of the 2019 Virginia Acts of Assembly specify the roles and responsibilities of the Board and the I-81 Committee (the Committee) to enact the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program (the Program) and Fund (the Fund).
Section 33.2-3602 of the legislation requires the Board, in consultation with the Committee, to report to the General Assembly by December 15 of each year “regarding the status and progress of implementation of the Program." This report is mandated to include:
→ The safety and performance of the I-81 corridor including:
√ Crash frequency and severity per mile, expressed in equivalent property damage only (EPDO) crashes
√ Person-hours of delay per mile
√ Frequency of lane-impacting incidents per mile
√ Duration of a lane closure
→ An assessment on the effectiveness of the operational strategies and capital projects implemented and funded through the Program
→ The status of capital projects funded through the Program
→ The current and projected balances of the Fund
House Bill 2718 (Chapter 837) introduced by Delegates Steve Landes and Terry Austin, and Senate Bill 1716 (Chapter 846), introduced by Senators Mark Obenshain and William Carrico, establish the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program, Fund, and Committee. Governor Ralph Northam announced amendments in March 2019, providing dedicated annual funding to the corridor, estimated initially as $103 million in fiscal year 2020 and growing to an estimated $163 million in fiscal year 2025. These funds will support the $2 billion improvement program (estimate as of 2018 Plan). The revenues for the Fund were provided through the creation of a new truck registration fee as well as establishment of an I-81 corridor regional fuels tax and statewide diesel and road taxes.
During the 2020 General Assembly, House Bill 1414 (Chapter 1230) and Senate Bill 890 (Chapter 1275) made the following changes to the Program and Fund:
→ Authorized the sale and issuance of bonds with an aggregate principal amount of $1 billion
→ Converted the regional fuels tax to a cents per gallon tax with the opportunity for annual growth based on Consumer Price Index
→ Amended the regional fuels tax to only include localities through which I-81 passes or cities wholly encompassed by a county through which I-81 passes
→ Allocated additional funding for the corridor through the Interstate Operations and Enhancement Program. Previously provided statewide revenue sources are committed to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund beginning in fiscal year 2021.