TRIP Report: The Top 50 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Virginia

New report identifies Virginia’s 50 most needed transportation projects for economic growth; projects would improve, modernize and expand road and transit systems to support and grow the state’s economy

In order to adequately support Virginia’s existing industries and provide for additional economic growth, the state will need to make numerous improvements to its surface transportation system. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

TRIP’s report, “The Top 50 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Virginia,” identifies and ranks the projects needed to provide Virginia with a transportation system that can support the increased movement of people, goods and resources throughout the state.  The most needed surface transportation improvements in Virginia include 36 projects to build, expand or modernize highways, six projects to improve public transit and eight projects to improve the state’s rail system.  These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Virginia an attractive place to live, visit and do business.

According to the TRIP report, the most needed projects for the state’s economic growth are as follows:

Rank Top Ten Projects For Virginia’s Economic Growth
1. Widening I-95 between Washington, DC and Richmond
2. Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion
3. Widening I-64 from New Kent to Hampton to six lanes
4. Construction of HOT lanes and transit improvements on I-95/I-395 in Northern Virginia
5. Hampton Roads Third Crossing/Patriot’s Crossing
6. Widening I-64 in the City of Chesapeake and replacing High Rise Bridge
7. Widening I-66 in Prince William County, Fairfax and Vienna
8. Adding two lanes to multiple sections of I-81
9. Extending Metrorail from Fairfax County to Dulles Airport and beyond to Ashburn
10. Widening portions of Route 29 and adding two lanes to the Eastern Bypass in Warrenton

“The TRIP report provides a blueprint for the commonwealth’s economic future. Making needed improvements to Virginia’s surface transportation system will support future economic growth and competitiveness and help ensure that Virginia remains an attractive place to live, visit, work and do business,” said Whittington Clement, chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and former Virginia Secretary of Transportation.

Enhancing critical segments of Virginia’s surface transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth, improving the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors.

Sustaining Virginia’s long-term economic growth and maintaining the state’s high quality of life will require increased investment in expanding the capacity of the state’s surface transportation system, which will enhance business productivity and support short- and long-term job creation in the state.

“Virginia can’t get where it wants to go – in both a literal and an economic sense – without an efficient transportation system” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “It is critical that Virginia’s transportation system is adequately funded at the local, state and federal level. Thousands of jobs and the state’s economic well being are riding on it.”

TRIP ranked each transportation project based on a rating system that considered the following: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.

TRIP’s Top 50 Surface Transportation

Projects to Support Economic Growth in Virginia

February 2011

Executive Summary

Virginia’s transportation system has played a significant role in the state’s development, providing mobility and access for residents, visitors, businesses, industry and the military.  The state’s roads, highways, rails and public transit systems remain the backbone of the state’s economy.  Virginia’s transportation system also provides for a high quality of life and makes the state a desirable place to live and visit.  The condition and quality of its transportation system will play a critical role in Virginia’s ability to continue to rebound from the recession, capitalize on its economic advantages and meet the demands of the 21st Century.

To achieve sustainable economic growth, Virginia must take advantage of its central location on the nation’s East Coast by proceeding with numerous projects to improve key roads, highways, bridges, rails and public transit systems.  Enhancing critical segments of Virginia’s surface transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth.

In this report, TRIP examines recent transportation and economic trends in Virginia and provides information on the surface transportation projects in the state that are most needed to support economic growth. Sources of data include the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and the U.S. Census Bureau.  All data used in the report is the latest available.

TRIP has identified the 50 surface transportation projects that are most needed to support Virginia’s economic growth. These projects are located throughout the state.

  • The most needed surface transportation improvements in Virginia include 36 projects to build, expand or modernize highways, six projects to improve public transit and eight projects to improve the state’s rail system.  These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion and making Virginia an attractive place to live, visit and do business.
  • TRIP ranked each transportation project based on a rating system that considered the following: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia’s long-range multimodal plan, VTran2035, has identified the following as Virginia’s top transportation priorities to enhance economic competitiveness in the state over the next 25 years:  expanding the Port of Virginia, the third largest port on the East Coast, and access to the port; improving access to and in the vicinity of Dulles International Airport, which serves the nation’s fourth largest economic market;  connecting high speed and intercity rail with regional transportation systems; improving freight mobility; enhancing rural connectivity; and completing several public-private transportation projects including the expansion of I-95 and I-395 high occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes in Northern Virginia, improvements to highway tunnels in the Hampton Roads area, and the construction of a four-lane highway along the Route 460 corridor from Petersburg to Suffolk.
  • Virginia’s 10 most needed surface transportation projects to support economic development in the state as determined by TRIP follow.  Additional details on these and the other projects that make up the 50 most needed projects in Virginia for economic recovery and growth are included in the report’s Appendix.

1. Widening I-95 between Washington D.C. and Richmond. This $2.4 billion project would add two to four lanes in multiple sections of the I-95 Corridor between Washington, D.C and Richmond. The project would add four lanes on the Capital Beltway from the I-495 Ramp to Route 241 in Fairfax, two lanes (in conjunction with Metrorail extension to be studied from Franconia-Springfield to the Potomac Mills Mall) from the Route 123 in Prince William County to the Stafford County Line, two lanes from the Prince William / Stafford County Line to Route 1 in Spotsylvania County, and two lanes from  Route 1 in Spotsylvania County to the Henrico County Line. This is the most heavily traveled corridor in the state, sustaining the economic engine of Northern Virginia. Continued economic success in the state is dependent on maintaining a reliable and high functioning I-95.

2. Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion. This $2.4 billion project would construct an additional four lanes, including bridge tunnel expansion from I-664 in Hampton to I-564 in Norfolk as part of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion.  The project addresses a perennial regional bottleneck, providing mobility for commuters between the Peninsula and Southside  It also is a critical route for tourist traffic from the I-95 Corridor to Virginia Beach.

3. Widening I-64 from New Kent to Hampton to six lanes. This $1.9 billion project would widen 53 miles of I-64 from New Kent to Hampton, providing improved access to and from the ports and Hampton Roads military installations and improving access to Virginia Beach, one of, the state’s largest tourist destinations. This project provides improved capacity and safety on Virginia’s primary access to the Hampton Roads area, which is also a critical hurricane evacuation route.

4. Construction of HOT lanes on I-95/I-395 in Northern Virginia and transit improvements. This $1.4 billion project would construct HOT lanes on I-95 and I-395 in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Fredericksburg and Prince William County and provide transit improvements. Adding HOT lanes will increase capacity and improve safety on Virginia’s highest volume roadway. Northern Virginia’s continued economic success is dependent on a reliable and well-functioning I-95 and I-395.

5. Hampton Roads Third Crossing/ Patriot’s Crossing. This $5 billion project involves constructing Phase I of the Third Crossing from existing I-664 across Hampton Roads Harbor past Craney Island to the I-564 Intermodal Connector via a four-lane limited access bridge or tunnel. The project provides a potential alternate crossing to the I-64 Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which is chronically congested.  It would also provide critical direct access to port terminals in Norfolk, Portsmouth and future Craney Island expansion. An alternative river crossing will allow for greater mobility between the Peninsula and Southside of Hampton Roads, and will allow for improved truck freight movement from the ports to points west.

6. Widening I-64 in City of Chesapeake and replacing the High Rise Bridge. This $11 billion project would widen I-64 from two lanes in each direction to three general purpose lanes in each direction and would replace the High Rise Bridge. Completion of the project would eliminate congestion and daily delays at the High Rise Bridge and improve travel times and reliability to major employment centers, port facilities, defense installations and tourist destinations while expanding the evacuation route.

7. Widening I-66 in Prince William County, Fairfax and Vienna. This $761 million project would add two lanes to I-66 in multiple locations, largely in conjunction with Metrorail improvements. It would address growing congestion on I-66 and alleviate congestion at the major chokepoint where I-495 and I-66 meet. The project would reduce delays and maintain Northern Virginia’s economic competitiveness and ability to attract businesses and employers. See Appendix for specific widening locations.

8. Adding two lanes to multiple sections of I-81. This $1.6 billion multi-part project would add two lanes to several sections of I-81, which is the “Main Street” of the Shenandoah Valley and a critical freight route. The improvements will address some of the high crash locations along the corridor and provide greater mobility for local commuter traffic in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Roanoke. See Appendix for specific widening locations.

9. Extending Metrorail from Fairfax County to Dulles Airport and beyond to Ashburn. This $3.2 billion project would extend Metrorail from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn to increase mobility and manage congestion between Dulles Airport and Washington, D.C. Completion of the project will provide significant regional mobility and economic development benefits.

10. Widening portions of Route 29 and adding two lanes to the Eastern Bypass in Warrenton. This multi-part, $849 million project would widen several sections of Route 29 in Fairfax, Prince William, Fauquier, Greene and Albemarle Counties and would add two lanes to the Eastern Bypass around the congested Warrenton area where Routes 15, 17 and 29 converge. Route 29 is a major north-south corridor in the Piedmont region of Virginia, serving a significant amount of freight in addition to passenger traffic.  These improvements will also create the potential for economic development by improving access in the area. See Appendix for specific widening locations.

Surface transportation projects that improve the efficiency, condition or safety of a highway or transit route provide significant economic benefits by reducing transportation delays and costs associated with a deficient transportation system.  Some benefits of transportation improvements include the following.

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • The creation of both short-term and long-term jobs.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or transit capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure also provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses.  Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • Site Selection magazine’s 2010 survey of corporate real estate executives found that transportation infrastructure was the third most important selection factor in deciding in site location decisions, behind only work force skills and state and local taxes.
  • A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

While the United States entered a significant economic downturn in 2008, including a large increase in unemployment, Virginia, buoyed by its diverse economy, has fared better economically than most of the nation,.

  • In November, 2007, Virginia’s unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, lower than the national 4.7 percent unemployment rate.  By November 2008, Virginia’s unemployment rate increased to 4.8 percent, lower than the national 6.8 percent unemployment rate.
  • Virginia’s unemployment rate peaked at 7.3 percent in March 2010 and by November 2010 had dropped to 6.8 percent.  The national unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in November 2010 and dropped to 9.4 percent in December 2010.
  • In 2010, Virginia experienced the tenth highest rate of economic growth in the U.S. — with a 2.6 percent increase in real gross state product (GSP).   Total Real GSP in the U.S. increased by 0.9 percent in 2010.
  • Virginia has benefited from a diverse economy, which includes significant employment in the following sectors:  government, professional and business, real estate, manufacturing, trade, health care and services.
  • From 1990 to 2009, Virginia’s population increased by 27 percent, from approximately 6.2 million to approximately 7.9 million.   Virginia’s population is expected to increase to 9.8 million by 2030.
  • From 1990 to 2008, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 37 percent, from approximately 60.2 billion VMT to 82.3 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Virginia will increase another 35 percent by 2030, reaching approximately 111 billion VMT.

Virginia’s economy is served by an extensive surface transportation system that has significant deficiencies.  Roads carry the majority of freight shipped in the state.

  • Virginia is served by a system of 73,903 miles of roads and 13,529 bridges, maintained by local, state and federal governments, which carry 82.3 billion vehicle miles of travel annually.
  • Nearly a quarter of Virginia’s major roads are deficient, with six percent rated in poor condition in 2008.  An additional 18 percent of the state’s major roads were rated in mediocre condition in 2008.
  • Nine percent of Virginia’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2009.  A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components.  Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • Every year, $194 billion in goods are shipped annually from sites in Virginia and another $250 billion in goods are shipped annually to sites in Virginia, mostly by truck.
  • In 2009 17 percent of Virginia’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

  • Eighty percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Virginia are carried by trucks and another thirteen percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of the deliveries.

Sources of data for this report include the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS),the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.  All data used in the report is the latest available.

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