While the future of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s funding for regional projects remains murky, an early draft of its first six-year plan shows Loudoun could secure more than $300 million in grants for seven major road projects.
A first run of a mathematical model that weighs project cost against congestion relief shows seven of Loudoun’s 12 proposed projects could rank high enough for funding from the authority.
Those projects include: widening Rt. 28 northbound between the Dulles Toll Road and Sterling Boulevard; Rt. 15 bypass widening between Battlefield Parkway and Montresor Road; extending Shellhorn Road east from Loudoun County Parkway to Randolph Drive; extending Prentice Drive west to connect to Shellhorn Road at its intersection with Metro Center Drive at Loudoun Station; building an interchange at Rt. 7 and Battlefield Parkway; and widening Dulles West Boulevard between Loudoun County Parkway and Northstar Boulevard.
Those projects collectively are estimated to cost more than $586 million; the county has applied for almost $329 million from the authority. Loudoun’s projects were among 62 candidates.
But Loudoun Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn), who serves on the committee that saw the early draft, said that this is “good news” that comes with a lot of caveats.
“The rankings here do not reflect some of the other factors at play when projects are selected for funding or not selected for funding,” Buona said during Tuesday’s Board of Superivors meeting. “Such as, is it an existing project that needs more money, such as are the projects drawing down the money they have in the right manner—there’s a lot of qualitative factors that go into it.”
The rankings also do not incorporate longer-term projections about traffic relief into 2045, which are not yet complete.
The other caveat, he said, lies with uncertainty about the future of the authority’s funding. The General Assembly this year nearly unanimously passed a bill that fills Virginia’s share of Metro’s funding gap mostly by redirecting that money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Gov. Ralph Northam has said he will offer amendments to that bill, hinting they will restore much of that funding to the authority. He has hinted those amendments will restore some authority funding, which is raised by special taxes in the Northern Virginia region.
“And that could affect the money, and it could affect how much debt, if any, NVTA is willing to issue,” Buona said. “And all of that is still at play until the special session in the middle of April.”
Northam has until Monday to file changes. The General Assembly will reconvene for a special session beginning Wednesday.
The current version of the bill passed with nearly unanimously support from both chambers, including every Loudoun representative except Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) and Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33), and redirects an estimated $108 million in local and NVTA transportation funding.
Projects proposed for funding the authority’s first six-year plan were ranked based on congestion reduction, travel time reliability, accessibility, connection to activity centers, safety, road network connections, and vehicle emissions.
Northern Virginia Transportation Authority staff plan to publish the rankings after the authority’s meeting April 12, and open the projects up to public comment from April 13 to May 20, with a public hearing May 10.