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Author Topic: I-73 in VA  (Read 97394 times)

hbelkins

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #225 on: October 27, 2016, 09:10:15 PM »

A long time ago when I-73 was first discussed, the reasonable routing in Virginia added it to existing I-77 to get from West Virginia to North Carolina. But some politicians saw a way to enhance their standing with voters and gerrymandered the route to the east, even though there is no really good way to do so unless one spends lots and lots of money, moves lots of earth, and displaces a lot of people -- with limited benefit. Pretty much any discussion of how to get from West Virginia to Roanoke has faded away, since U.S. 460 is already pretty much on what would be the most viable route (and improving that road is a major part of any expense to create the new highway).
Bruce in Blacksburg

I always thought that I-73 was supposed to be routed across the Smart Road.
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Mapmikey

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #226 on: October 27, 2016, 09:35:00 PM »

A long time ago when I-73 was first discussed, the reasonable routing in Virginia added it to existing I-77 to get from West Virginia to North Carolina. But some politicians saw a way to enhance their standing with voters and gerrymandered the route to the east, even though there is no really good way to do so unless one spends lots and lots of money, moves lots of earth, and displaces a lot of people -- with limited benefit. Pretty much any discussion of how to get from West Virginia to Roanoke has faded away, since U.S. 460 is already pretty much on what would be the most viable route (and improving that road is a major part of any expense to create the new highway).
Bruce in Blacksburg

I always thought that I-73 was supposed to be routed across the Smart Road.

Bruce is talking about the period of 1991-95 when I-73/74 was legislatively on the same exact corridor (I-74's current corridor)...

A synopsis of the early history of these corridors is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_73
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LM117

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #227 on: October 28, 2016, 09:20:40 AM »

A resolution to support a Transportation Tax District failed in Henry County.

http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/news/tax-district-vote-fails-to-move-forward-in-henry-county/article_17841dbb-001e-5ac0-b01a-436d6649d907.html

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COLLINSVILLE-A Henry County resolution to support a Transportation Tax District failed for lack of a motion on Tuesday.

During the 3 p.m. meeting of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, the group considered endorsing a resolution which would ask the General Assembly to create the district. However when the time to make a motion and put it up for a vote, no one was interested in moving forward.

Hall added that the General Assembly would have three options regarding the district: They could approve its creation, they could reject it outright, or they could move to put the creation of the district to a referendum and let voters decide.

Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant said that he was concerned by the fact that the funds raised in Henry County might not end up in Henry County, a concern echoed by several other members of the board.

Iriswood District Representative Milton Kendall said that he didn’t think the resolution would move the needle on Interstate 73. In Henry County, he said, it’s estimated that the 0.7 percent tax increase would generate $2.8 million annually in the county. At that rate, he said, it would take 20 years to build one mile of I-73, and even if the money didn’t go to I-73, it might not even go toward a transportation project within the county.

Ridgeway District Supervisor Ryan Zehr echoed these concerns, adding that he would feel more comfortable supporting the resolution if the General Assembly were to put it to a referendum and allow the voters to decide. Without that guarantee, he said, he had a hard time supporting it.

Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan added that a lack of support for this particular resolution should not be seen as a lack of support for I-73, because the board supports the creation of I-73.

The resolution failed for lack of a motion.
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VTGoose

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #228 on: October 28, 2016, 10:58:21 AM »

I always thought that I-73 was supposed to be routed across the Smart Road.

Yeah, but that is only a short portion of the entire route -- and given the research that is carried out on the Smart Road now, I seriously doubt that it will ever be extended to I-81 (not that many people really believed that fairy tale).

Like U.S. 220, U.S. 460 between the West Va. state line and I-81 is pretty much already on the path of least resistance. The Narrows where the New River flows between two mountains is the easy way to go -- it would take a lot of cuts, fill, and bridges to get from, say, Kellysville, WVa. to the north end of the Blacksburg bypass. VDOT has too many other projects that need funding (and no good reason to "shortcut" I-77 to I-81 to get to Roanoke and beyond) so an interstate highway through this area is pretty much a dead issue.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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mvak36

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #229 on: October 28, 2016, 11:00:20 AM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #230 on: October 28, 2016, 11:39:44 AM »

Ridgeway District Supervisor Ryan Zehr echoed these concerns, adding that he would feel more comfortable supporting the resolution if the General Assembly were to put it to a referendum and allow the voters to decide. Without that guarantee, he said, he had a hard time supporting it.

Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan added that a lack of support for this particular resolution should not be seen as a lack of support for I-73, because the board supports the creation of I-73.

The resolution failed for lack of a motion.

This is very revealing. I read it as saying that they want I-73 as long as their own constituents do not have to pay for it.

They should tell that to Northern Virginia taxpayers, who fund the WMATA, VRE and some other transit service operating deficits and capital subsidies in part from taxes on motor fuels though transportation districts.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #231 on: October 28, 2016, 11:41:45 AM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.

That's a project that has great merit regardless of what happens (or does not happen) with I-73.  Most of I-81 in the Commonwealth ought to be six or eight lanes wide.
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Mapmikey

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #232 on: October 28, 2016, 01:40:03 PM »



This is very revealing. I read it as saying that they want I-73 as long as their own constituents do not have to pay for it.



Don't know that I would go that far in interpreting, but it does reinforce my original thought regarding forming a special tax district:  The article posted upthread said the entire district would expect about $60M per year.  Even at that figure getting I-73 built as currently planned it would take a while to accumulate enough cash to do anything substantial.  What I think would happen is that geographic groups within the district would want to siphon off money from that pot to fund local projects that VDOT can't/won't fund instead of letting it sit for years at a time before I-73 construction could happen.  Would Roanoke be OK with taking the first few years of the fund to build the NC to Martinsville section?  Would Martinsville be OK with taking the first few years and building the first section south of I-581?  The tax district would have to be legislatively tied to I-73 in order for it to have a chance to be successful in getting I-73 built, IMO.

I am in favor of these types of tax districts so that local areas have the ability to fund local projects that don't score well with VDOT's method of funding projects.  Not sure a general tax district is as useful to fund one megaproject.

Separately, don't forget there is this still out there from the one guy pushing hard at the state level ($40M a year starting NLT 2020 for I-73): http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+SB197

« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 01:44:06 PM by Mapmikey »
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LM117

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #233 on: October 28, 2016, 02:42:48 PM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.

That's a project that has great merit regardless of what happens (or does not happen) with I-73.  Most of I-81 in the Commonwealth ought to be six or eight lanes wide.

I agree, but sadly I-81 seems to get the same treatment in VA that I-95 gets in NC.

Hell, I don't think parts of I-581 (I-73's routing) in Roanoke even meets current interstate standards. 
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 02:46:52 PM by LM117 »
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Strider

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #234 on: October 28, 2016, 09:18:21 PM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.

That's a project that has great merit regardless of what happens (or does not happen) with I-73.  Most of I-81 in the Commonwealth ought to be six or eight lanes wide.

I agree, but sadly I-81 seems to get the same treatment in VA that I-95 gets in NC.

Hell, I don't think parts of I-581 (I-73's routing) in Roanoke even meets current interstate standards.


I-581 is fully interstate standard from I-81 to the end of US 220 Freeway south of Roanoke with the exception of the bridge that crosses some streets near the Elm Ave interchange.
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VTGoose

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #235 on: October 28, 2016, 09:59:28 PM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.

That's a project that has great merit regardless of what happens (or does not happen) with I-73.  Most of I-81 in the Commonwealth ought to be six or eight lanes wide.

I agree, but sadly I-81 seems to get the same treatment in VA that I-95 gets in NC.

Hell, I don't think parts of I-581 (I-73's routing) in Roanoke even meets current interstate standards.

I-81 is a very schizophrenic highway. There are times when it is bumper to bumper in both lanes for miles in both directions and there are times when it barely has any traffic. This can even occur within a couple of miles on the same trip, from being in a slug of traffic to being almost alone. The most bizarre thing I've seen was an almost totally vacant highway. We were returning from Vermont on a New Year's Eve and stopped for a late dinner in Winchester. It was about 9 p.m. when we got back on the road and for most of the way south we were the only car on the road. We were climbing Christiansburg Mountain when midnight hit.

But these days, there are more times that traffic is almost overwhelming the capacity of the road. Throw in the daily wreck that slows or stops traffic and more lanes would help. The three lanes southbound from Ironto to the Christiansburg exit at MP 119 have made a great difference in keeping traffic moving (except when a wreck covers all three lanes). There was a great deal of noise a number of years ago about improving the highway across multiple states, but about all that came of that was the improvement program at Bristol and a handful of bridge and climbing lane projects. Harrisonsburg, Winchester, and Roanoke would all benefit from additional lanes but the timing on any work is far in the future.

As to I-581, most of the main road isn't bad but it is plagued by VDOT's "instant on/instant off" ramps that don't allow an easy mix of traffic. South of Elm Avenue, where 581 ends and U.S. 220 continues, there are some curves that may not be up to interstate standards. Again, that highway follows the path of least resistance through an urban area. There isn't much choice to launch a new route for I-73 without a lot of expensive property condemnation. That will probably keep the project off the books for years to come.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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cpzilliacus

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #236 on: October 31, 2016, 11:08:53 AM »



This is very revealing. I read it as saying that they want I-73 as long as their own constituents do not have to pay for it.



Don't know that I would go that far in interpreting, but it does reinforce my original thought regarding forming a special tax district:  The article posted upthread said the entire district would expect about $60M per year.  Even at that figure getting I-73 built as currently planned it would take a while to accumulate enough cash to do anything substantial.  What I think would happen is that geographic groups within the district would want to siphon off money from that pot to fund local projects that VDOT can't/won't fund instead of letting it sit for years at a time before I-73 construction could happen.  Would Roanoke be OK with taking the first few years of the fund to build the NC to Martinsville section?  Would Martinsville be OK with taking the first few years and building the first section south of I-581?  The tax district would have to be legislatively tied to I-73 in order for it to have a chance to be successful in getting I-73 built, IMO.

I am in favor of these types of tax districts so that local areas have the ability to fund local projects that don't score well with VDOT's method of funding projects.  Not sure a general tax district is as useful to fund one megaproject.

Separately, don't forget there is this still out there from the one guy pushing hard at the state level ($40M a year starting NLT 2020 for I-73): http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+SB197

You are asking the right questions about Roanoke wanting to fund improvements closer to Martinsville and vice versa, and I do not know enough about local attitudes to have a clue about what the answers might be.

I perceive the "I-73 District" along the existing U.S. 220 corridor as being a way to tell the CTB, VDOT and the General Assembly that the localities along the route have some "skin in the game," not to fund the entire project or series of projects (be it an entirely new freeway-class road on a new alignment or a series of upgrades to existing U.S. 220).
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cpzilliacus

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #237 on: October 31, 2016, 11:27:24 AM »

Maybe they can finally concentrate on widening I-81 throughout the state.

That's a project that has great merit regardless of what happens (or does not happen) with I-73.  Most of I-81 in the Commonwealth ought to be six or eight lanes wide.

I agree, but sadly I-81 seems to get the same treatment in VA that I-95 gets in NC.

Hell, I don't think parts of I-581 (I-73's routing) in Roanoke even meets current interstate standards.

I-81 is a very schizophrenic highway. There are times when it is bumper to bumper in both lanes for miles in both directions and there are times when it barely has any traffic. This can even occur within a couple of miles on the same trip, from being in a slug of traffic to being almost alone. The most bizarre thing I've seen was an almost totally vacant highway. We were returning from Vermont on a New Year's Eve and stopped for a late dinner in Winchester. It was about 9 p.m. when we got back on the road and for most of the way south we were the only car on the road. We were climbing Christiansburg Mountain when midnight hit.

Presumably you had the  benefit of not having to share I-81 southbound with hundreds of commercial vehicles on New Years Eve.

At the north end of I-81 (roughly from Woodstock to the West Virginia border), WTOP Radio in Washington now reports wrecks on that part of the system.  Last week, there was a pretty bad truck crash between Exit 323 (VA-669) and the West Virginia border (it was just north of 669 but still in Virginia) that led to a total shut-down of the northbound lanes, and loads of spillover traffic onto U.S. 11, and plenty of gridlocked intersections.  Many of the interchanges along I-81 could use reconstruction (perhaps the worst in this section of I-81 being at I-66 (I-81 Exit 300), which is somewhat newer than the rest of I-81 but still has many issues, starting with that brutal left-hand merge from I-66 westbound to I-81 southbound).

But these days, there are more times that traffic is almost overwhelming the capacity of the road. Throw in the daily wreck that slows or stops traffic and more lanes would help. The three lanes southbound from Ironto to the Christiansburg exit at MP 119 have made a great difference in keeping traffic moving (except when a wreck covers all three lanes). There was a great deal of noise a number of years ago about improving the highway across multiple states, but about all that came of that was the improvement program at Bristol and a handful of bridge and climbing lane projects. Harrisonsburg, Winchester, and Roanoke would all benefit from additional lanes but the timing on any work is far in the future.

Agreed on all points.  I still think that every state in the I-81 corridor should take a serious look at tolling for all traffic, not just the "toll trucks only since that will not offend the Virginia General Assembly" scheme that fell apart about 10 years ago.

As to I-581, most of the main road isn't bad but it is plagued by VDOT's "instant on/instant off" ramps that don't allow an easy mix of traffic. South of Elm Avenue, where 581 ends and U.S. 220 continues, there are some curves that may not be up to interstate standards. Again, that highway follows the path of least resistance through an urban area. There isn't much choice to launch a new route for I-73 without a lot of expensive property condemnation. That will probably keep the project off the books for years to come.

I have not been on I-581 for a long time, but it did not seem that different from other (older) urban Virginia freeways such as I-64 in Hampton Roads and the RTP part of I-95 in Richmond.
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LM117

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #238 on: November 27, 2016, 11:39:25 AM »

I just stumbled across an op-ed posted in The Roanoke Times by Skip Ressel on November 16, president of the I-73 committee in Martinsville. He's the guy who declared I-73 dead IIRC.

http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/letters/ressel-i--money-is-misspent/article_5b300512-3be1-52a3-b5a5-383369829181.html?TNNoMobile

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Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and Commonwealth Transportation Board members Court Rosen and William Fralin have decided to buck the wishes of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and squander earmarked money on studies of the U.S. 220 corridor and improving an intersection at Bassett Forks instead of helping this area grow by re-purposing an earmark toward a much-needed connector road where the earmark was originally intended.

At stake is $8.3 million earmark that was to be spent near Martinsville on I-73. The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016 is directing the money either be returned to the federal government or re-purposed. Same is true for about $2.2 million to be spent near Roanoke, now also going to be spent on studies.

These CTB members are going to waste the money on studies on the 220 corridor and improve a stop light. We need economic development help in Henry County and using this money for a connector road to expand our largest industrial park makes more sense than studies. But they are not from Henry County and do not feel the loss of businesses like we have.

It must be nice to wield power with no consequences and help funnel money to people who do studies and do nothing to create jobs and grow the tax base for Virginia. Overwhelmingly, businesses and the public want the connector road started. The CTB members know this but are acting like they know better what we need.The earmark was gotten in 2005 long before HB2 came about and about $800,000 of this money has been spent.

We would like to use the rest of the earmark to be "shovel ready" on the connector road when the Smart Scale shows the road is a high priority. With Henry County donating 68 percent of the ROW the $8.5 million can be used to pay for the preliminary engineering surveying and purchasing of the balance of ROW needed. Layne is afraid to "encumber future boards" with the task of finishing the connector road. Isn't this the new normal since road building takes so long, without starting somewhere nothing will get done? Maybe that is what the CTB members want.

SKIP RESSEL, JR.
MARTINSVILLE
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #239 on: November 27, 2016, 01:39:07 PM »

I just stumbled across an op-ed posted in The Roanoke Times by Skip Ressel on November 16, president of the I-73 committee in Martinsville. He's the guy who declared I-73 dead IIRC.

http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/letters/ressel-i--money-is-misspent/article_5b300512-3be1-52a3-b5a5-383369829181.html?TNNoMobile

Quote
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and Commonwealth Transportation Board members Court Rosen and William Fralin have decided to buck the wishes of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and squander earmarked money on studies of the U.S. 220 corridor and improving an intersection at Bassett Forks instead of helping this area grow by re-purposing an earmark toward a much-needed connector road where the earmark was originally intended.

At stake is $8.3 million earmark that was to be spent near Martinsville on I-73. The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016 is directing the money either be returned to the federal government or re-purposed. Same is true for about $2.2 million to be spent near Roanoke, now also going to be spent on studies.

These CTB members are going to waste the money on studies on the 220 corridor and improve a stop light. We need economic development help in Henry County and using this money for a connector road to expand our largest industrial park makes more sense than studies. But they are not from Henry County and do not feel the loss of businesses like we have.

It must be nice to wield power with no consequences and help funnel money to people who do studies and do nothing to create jobs and grow the tax base for Virginia. Overwhelmingly, businesses and the public want the connector road started. The CTB members know this but are acting like they know better what we need.The earmark was gotten in 2005 long before HB2 came about and about $800,000 of this money has been spent.

We would like to use the rest of the earmark to be "shovel ready" on the connector road when the Smart Scale shows the road is a high priority. With Henry County donating 68 percent of the ROW the $8.5 million can be used to pay for the preliminary engineering surveying and purchasing of the balance of ROW needed. Layne is afraid to "encumber future boards" with the task of finishing the connector road. Isn't this the new normal since road building takes so long, without starting somewhere nothing will get done? Maybe that is what the CTB members want.

SKIP RESSEL, JR.
MARTINSVILLE


It is sad how these people just ignore how Henry County wants and choose to improve the Bassett Forks stoplight (hey, it does need an improvements badly), but the money is (or was) for I-73 and should never be taken away.

They are still fighting for that money, I believe. I have not heard anything about what happened to $8.5 million though. Hopefully someone knows something.
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LM117

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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #240 on: December 06, 2016, 06:37:28 AM »

This tidbit from a Nov. 29 article indicates that Martinsville is not giving up their pursuit of a regional transportation authority.

http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/news/council-wants-to-stop-henry-county-s-wastewater-plans/article_acf84c12-b5d6-11e6-a4b4-bbfe0bc59000.html

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City continues to push for transportation authority

Also added to the proposed agenda is a statement that the council seeks legislative approval of “the concept of a transportation authority for southern Virginia, with a dedicated revenue stream for the construction of I-73 and other transportation priorities.”

At the urging of state Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, the council recently adopted a resolution asking the General Assembly to create a regional transportation authority like ones in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Those authorities control revenue generated from state sales tax hikes and put it toward transportation needs.

Interstate 73 would run through Henry County. Yet the county’s board of supervisors has opted not to approve a similar resolution. According to County Administrator Tim Hall, there is no guarantee that the governing board of a transportation authority would let money collected in the county stay in the county. That argument is echoed by the way the Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia authorities operate. The money collected by each is put into a pool and then the group as a whole votes on where it goes. Therefore, there would be no guarantee that any of the money would go toward building the interstate.

Knox made similar comments during a recent council meeting.

Without the county’s support for a transportation authority, “I just don’t know if it’s going to happen,” said Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge.

“The concept is good,” Knox said, but “the chance of it coming to fruition without Henry County is a long shot.”

To convince the state to approve it, “you need a true unified (regional) authority,” he said.

Still, Councilmen Gene Teague and Mark Stroud said they think the statement should be in the agenda.

“We’ve adopted a resolution of support” for the authority, Teague said. “That’s our position” on it.

The way that the statement is worded, he said, there is nothing committing Martinsville to supporting a sales tax increase or any particular way of generating revenue to get I-73 built.

State officials “could create anything” as far as a tax or another type of revenue stream, Teague said.

The council plans to discuss the legislative agenda more during its Dec. 13 meeting before considering approving it.

Franklin County, like Henry, is hesitant about a regional transportation authority.

http://m.roanoke.com/news/local/franklin_county/franklin-county-still-part-of-push-for-i--but/article_b75c423f-b985-5e71-85d4-a5dc8f63e573.html?mode=jqm

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Though the Interstate 73 highway project has long been stalled, Franklin County and other localities in the region haven’t given up on the idea of a faster link to North Carolina.

At its November meeting, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors was visited by key players in moving the project forward: Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, and Rob Catron with Alcalde & Fay — Virginia, a lobbying firm hired as a project advocate.

At the meeting, Stanley praised the county for taking the step last year of hiring a lobbyist. He said it was the first time Franklin County had ever done so, and County Administrator Brent Robertson said he believes the senator’s assertion was correct.

In 2015, Franklin County joined with four other localities — Roanoke and Henry counties and the cities of Martinsville and Roanoke — and the lobbying firm to create the Interstate 73 Coalition.

“The purpose of the coalition is to work on getting I-73 built in Virginia. That’s our mission, if you will,” said Catron, managing partner at the lobbying firm’s Virginia branch.

According to a June 2015 contract establishing the relationship, each locality pays the firm a monthly fee. For Franklin and Henry counties, it’s $1,500. Roanoke and Roanoke County pay $2,000 and Martinsville pays $1,000.

The contract is set to expire at the end of the year, but has a provision that would allow for its extension, if the localities provide the firm with written notice of their intent to continue the contract 60 days before it expires. On Tuesday, Robertson said he was unsure if that step had been taken. The contract predates Robertson, who started in his position in July 2015.

Franklin supervisors Chairman Cline Brubaker said the county has not given notice of its interest in extending the contract but said he believes the board is still interested in working with the lobbying firm to push the project forward. However, Brubaker said he cannot speak for his fellow supervisors.

“I know that I’m strongly in favor of it [I-73], I hope the rest of them are,” he said.

Catron would not comment on localities specifically, but said, “I anticipate the I-73 coalition continuing into the new year with the same members we have now or maybe even additional members.”

Robertson said the creation of the coalition speaks to the county’s view that transportation projects are “critically important,” particularly in a more rural area. This region has different transportation needs than say, Northern Virginia, where the primary concern is congestion, Robertson said.

“Here, we’re talking about connecting disparate dots,” he said. And Robertson believes the interstate could help to do that.

The county’s new 550-acre business park makes the interstate even more significant, as the road could be used to lure prospects, Robertson said, given that the project would have a direct impact on the transportation of goods.

Catron of the lobbying firm said localities generally hire lobbyists for their expertise concerning particular issues of interest and for their knowledge of state government . Transportation is a common issue for which localities seek assistance from lobbyists, he said, given its complex funding process.

In relation to I-73, the firm is essentially “trying to be a squeaky wheel to get some grease,” Catron said.

There are many projects in Virginia worthy of funding, he said, so a locality needs to have a presence in Richmond getting the word out about the project and ensuring it’s a priority.

“That’s what we bring, is a focus and an effort to get those CTB [Commonwealth Transportation Board] members and the administration and the General Assembly to pay attention to our project,” Catron said. “Because frankly if you don’t do that, it will never get built.”

Catron outlined legislative initiatives that have been pursued thus far, such as working to establish an interstate compact with other states the highway will travel through; creating a state senate subcommittee, which Stanley chairs, to research the project and the impact it would have on the region’s economy; and introducing legislation that would create an I-73 development fund and program that would reallocate the money going toward a similar fund for the U.S. 58 corridor, though that money likely wouldn’t come through for another 15 to 20 years.

The most recent idea floated around to push the project forward is creating a regional transportation district, in which the state sales tax rate is increased by 0.7 percent, bumping it up from 5.3 to an even 6 percent, and the additional money collected goes toward funding projects within that region. Stanley pitched the idea to the board at its November meeting. Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads have established such regional transportation districts.

Robertson said the senator made strong arguments for a regional transportation district, but that the board would need more information before it could come to a decision about an initiative that would require a tax increase.

“There can be a lot of value to the localities being able to have that sort of discretionary funds to focus on projects for this area that they can control the decision making on,” Robertson said. “Obviously you’re ultimately talking about a tax increase.”

The supervisors briefly discussed the senator’s presentation during a Tuesday strategic planning meeting. Robertson asked the board members whether they’d want to discuss a regional transportation district at their December meeting. Ultimately the supervisors decided not to put it on the agenda, saying they’d like more information before moving forward.

The transportation district idea came up before the Henry County Board of Supervisors in October, but no action was taken because no member of the board offered a resolution amid concerns voiced about the proposal, according to The Martinsville Bulletin. The Martinsville City Council so far is the only government body to support the concept.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #241 on: January 24, 2017, 12:03:48 PM »

According to this Jan. 12 article from the Martinsville Bulletin, the Martinsville City Council voted to extend it's I-73 lobbying contract.

http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/news/city-agrees-to-extend-i--lobbying-contract/article_a18169ca-d85b-11e6-a87b-c3e8c30cb560.html

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MARTINSVILLE – The city will remain part of the Interstate 73 Coalition, at least through the end of this year.

In a unanimous vote, Martinsville’s City Council on Tuesday extended the contract with Alcalde & Fay LLC, the Washington lobbying firm that oversees the coalition, for 12 months.

The extension will cost $1,000 per month for a total of $12,000, said city Finance Director Linda Conover.

In December, the Henry County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 to renew the county’s contract with the firm.

Franklin County is a participant, as are Roanoke County and the city of Roanoke. John Stirrup, co-executive director of the coalition, said the latter two localities so far also have renewed their contracts.

The coalition advocates for the development and construction of the Southwestern Virginia portion of I-73, which would run through Henry County near Martinsville.

Economic developers say that having an interstate would help the area attract new businesses and industries. Such four-lane, divided highways lack driveway connections that can slow traffic, which enables tractor-trailers delivering raw materials and shipping products to get to their destinations faster.

Among their work, coalition representatives have met with federal and state transportation officials to discuss funding needs and necessary planning and environmental studies, and they have met with members of Congress representing areas along I-73’s entire corridor from Michigan to South Carolina to solicit their support for the highway, Stirrup said. Some portions of the interstate already have been established outside Virginia.

Several potential funding sources exist, including the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. Stirrup said, though, that with the impending change of presidential administrations, it will take time to determine whether those sources will continue to exist and, if so, how they will function.

According to Stirrup, President-elect Trump has indicated that a possible new funding method – the American Energy and Infrastructure Act – is worth exploring. The legislation, in development, would leverage public-private partnerships and private investments spurring $1 trillion in infrastructure investments over 10 years, he said.

There’s still a question as to how that would happen or what the final bill will look like. Also, several conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute questioned the need for the proposal.

Still, Stirrup said, Trump has indicated he will sign legislation to lower the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and enable trillions of American corporate dollars held overseas to be brought back at a 10 percent rate. Those funds are to be dedicated to infrastructure improvements nationwide, he added.

Taking on a challenge

Stirrup said the coalition will seek to take advantage of any opportunities for funding I-73, or at least upgrading U.S. 220.

But obtaining funding for I-73 is “going to be challenging,” he said. “Lots of members of Congress have different ideas on how to spend money.”

Republican state Sen. Bill Stanley of Franklin County has actively pushed I-73 before the General Assembly, such as by introducing legislation to establish the Interstate 73 Corridor Development Fund and Program. Money allocated for improvements along U.S. 58 would be reallocated and transferred to the I-73 fund after the work is finished but no later than July 1, 2020. Forty million dollars a year now is being allocated for U.S. 58 upgrades.

Last year, the legislation passed the Senate but not the House. Stanley resubmitted it for consideration in the legislative session that started Wednesday.

All total, I-73 would cost an estimated $4 billion. The only money set aside for the local portion was $8.5 million in federal dollars, but even that was taken earlier this year, thanks to a Congressional bill to eliminate “orphan earmarks” – idle earmarked funds that have had less than 10 percent of the total spent. That money went instead to fund road improvements on U.S. 220.

Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge asked whether the coalition or Stanley is doing more in support of I-73.

“We work hand-in-glove with him,” Stirrup said of the coalition. Yet “we see ourselves as quarterbacking the entire project.”

Stanley has remarked that he is not able to be everywhere in Richmond he needs to be at one time to talk with state officials about the need for the interstate, said Mayor Gene Teague.

Councilwoman Jennifer Bowles asked how state Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne Jr. feels about I-73.

Layne realizes, Stirrup replied, that for many years, Southern Virginia has been shortchanged on transportation funds as compared to other more heavily urbanized regions of the state such as Hampton Roads. However, the secretary has commented that there are many transportation needs that could be funded statewide, he said.

Regardless, “I think we (the coalition) can make a strong case for I-73,” Stirrup added.

Speaking to Bulletin reporter Ben Williams back in September, Layne recommended that the $8.5 million earmarked for I-73 be spent instead toward improving the U.S. 220 corridor. At the time, he also pointed out that VDOT couldn’t start work on any portion of I-73 until the project is fully funded.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hodge said she planned not to vote for extending the city’s contract with the coalition because she perceives that state and federal officials generally are supportive of the interstate project. But hearing Stirrup’s comments prompted her to change her mind, she said.

If Martinsville was to not be part of the coalition, “it would be a hindrance to the effort” to get I-73 developed, Hodge said. Bowles agreed.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #242 on: January 27, 2017, 02:11:27 PM »

State sen. Bill Stanley has introduced a funding bill for I-73 in the General Assembly. This would be his second attempt.

http://m.roanoke.com/news/local/franklin_county/interstate-funding-gains-traction-in-general-assembly/article_4de289fd-7853-58d2-86c5-1c1810591bca.html?mode=jqm

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About two decades after the idea was first introduced, local representatives and state lawmakers are still fighting to build Interstate 73, which would create an avenue for high-speed travel between Roanoke and the North Carolina line south of Martinsville.

A bill to help fund the road at $40 million a year is back in the General Assembly and gaining traction as a way to economically revive Southwest and Southside Virginia.

The bill by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, passed through a Senate Finance subcommittee unopposed Wednesday. Last year, Stanley’s same bill passed in the Senate but died in a House committee .

The state would not issue new funds for the project. Rather, it would reallocate expenses directed toward U.S. 58, an east-to-west southern Virginia highway, as soon as that work is complete, perhaps in 20 years.

The proposed I-73 route along present-day U.S. 220 already bears ambitious signs that read “Future 73 Corridor.”

Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, called Southwest and Southside a “vision” for the rest of the state because of area efforts to reinvigorate an economy that used to rely heavily on manufacturing jobs.

Infrastructure investments are necessary to expand and diversify the economy, Wagner said.

“I think we’ve got all the ingredients to really watch that area explode,” he said.

Estimates say construction of I-73 will cost about $4 billion. Should the bill pass, it would secure the first chunk of funding for the road that would run through Stanley’s district.

On Wednesday, county administrators from Franklin and Henry counties — two localities through which the interstate would pass — pitched the road as an economic engine.

Brent Robertson of Franklin County said the proposed interstate would run next to a new 550-acre business park and enhance the region’s growing tourism industry .

As Franklin County residents see economic development and growth in other parts of the state, they feel left behind, Robertson said.

“Keep us in mind as you try to grow Virginia,” he said.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #243 on: January 27, 2017, 02:17:39 PM »

Yeah I heard of it. It went through the Senate with no issues. Now the only thing left is the House. Hopefully it goes through, even though 20+ years is a long wait. I have a feeling it will be built as a toll road, in which I don't mind driving on one. (Have done this many times).
« Last Edit: January 27, 2017, 02:22:23 PM by Strider »
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #244 on: January 27, 2017, 04:10:28 PM »

Yeah I heard of it. It went through the Senate with no issues. Now the only thing left is the House. Hopefully it goes through, even though 20+ years is a long wait. I have a feeling it will be built as a toll road, in which I don't mind driving on one. (Have done this many times).

If it gets built as a toll road, it would never be paid off, especially since there would be a perfectly good four-lane alternative parallel route (US 220) between Martinsville and Roanoke. I would probably drive I-73 once (for the novelty and to re-clinch all of Virginia's interstates) but I suspect a toll I-73 would be a very lonely road. Most traffic would still use 220 because it would be a four-lane free alternative.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #245 on: January 27, 2017, 04:35:17 PM »

Yeah I heard of it. It went through the Senate with no issues. Now the only thing left is the House. Hopefully it goes through, even though 20+ years is a long wait. I have a feeling it will be built as a toll road, in which I don't mind driving on one. (Have done this many times).

If it gets built as a toll road, it would never be paid off, especially since there would be a perfectly good four-lane alternative parallel route (US 220) between Martinsville and Roanoke. I would probably drive I-73 once (for the novelty and to re-clinch all of Virginia's interstates) but I suspect a toll I-73 would be a very lonely road. Most traffic would still use 220 because it would be a four-lane free alternative.

So why even worry about building I-73 if it's superfluous. I don't understand the Interstate fetishism in rural areas.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #246 on: January 27, 2017, 05:08:13 PM »

If they eventually do build Interstate 73 from Roanoke to North Carolina, I think they should use as much of the existing alignment as possible, and minimize using new alignments unless they are absolutely necessary. Would this be a practical plan?
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #247 on: January 27, 2017, 05:44:50 PM »

I don't understand the Interstate fetishism in rural areas.

Just because an interstate runs through a rural area, doesn't automatically mean that it's a waste of money. Future I-42 in NC is a prime example of a rural interstate that is much warranted.

I do agree with hbelkins that tolling I-73 would not be a good idea because of US-220 being a shunpike route. US-301 played a role in keeping tolls off of I-95 in NC when it was proposed there a few years ago. If VA actually does build I-73, it will need to be toll free. Tolling I-73 might work in SC, but not VA.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #248 on: January 27, 2017, 10:59:36 PM »

I don't understand the Interstate fetishism in rural areas.

Just because an interstate runs through a rural area, doesn't automatically mean that it's a waste of money. Future I-42 in NC is a prime example of a rural interstate that is much warranted.

I do agree with hbelkins that tolling I-73 would not be a good idea because of US-220 being a shunpike route. US-301 played a role in keeping tolls off of I-95 in NC when it was proposed there a few years ago. If VA actually does build I-73, it will need to be toll free. Tolling I-73 might work in SC, but not VA.

The only way I-73 will be toll free in Virginia is if the feds pay it, and unfortunately I do not see it on Trump's infrastructure list. VA would rather not build I-73 at all then not have tolls on it. There are just way too many other expensive priorities like widening I-64 and I-81 and not enough money for VA to spend 4 billion on a new toll-free interstate in a rather scarcely populated area.

As to US-220 being a shun-pike, if VA or whatever private company decide to build I-73, they would also probably try to toll U-220 is some parts as well. I know US routes aren't allowed to be tolled, but US-3 is tolled in NH and US-278 in SC so it's possible.
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Re: I-73 in VA
« Reply #249 on: January 29, 2017, 09:17:13 AM »

If it isn't a priority, then there's no need to rush to build as a toll road.  Spend the money where it is needed and then fit I-73 in when you have room in your program.

As NYSDOT puts it: Preservation First.
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