Gov. supports House’s revised transportation bill

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — The House of Delegates approved a revised version of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation legislation Tuesday.

The House passed the bill in a vote of 53-46, but stripped two controversial measures that had been part of Governor McDonnell’s overall transportation plan.

Lawmakers scrapped the governor’s plan to add tolls to I-95. Additionally, the user fee for hybrid car owners was removed. On the other hand, legislators voted to increase the state’s sales tax while eliminating the current 17.5 cent gas tax.

McDonnell praised the House’s passage of the bill in a news release.

“It is a major step forward towards finally putting in place the long-term transportation funding plan that Virginia has needed for far too long,” McDonnell said.

The governor also said the plan would invest $3 billion to the Commonwealth and bring an estimated 20,000 jobs over the next five years.

“This is our chance to finally address this problem and give Virginians the transportation system they need and deserve. This could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It is time to act,” McDonnell said.

State Delegate Roslyn Tyler, a Democrat, supported the bill because it eliminated tolls on I-95.

“This is a good day,” Tyler said.

“By the communities coming together, rallying together and going to town meetings together it shows government does listen,” Tyler said.

Of course the bill needs to be approved by the Senate where State Senator Stephen Newman has proposed an amendment that would also eliminate the $100 dollar hybrid user fee as well as tolls on I95 tolls south of Fredericksburg. It would additionally eliminate the $15 dollar vehicle registration fee increase that is in the governor’s plan.

The Newman amendment was voted down in the Senate late Tuesday. Which is why opponents of tolls and user fees will still keep fighting.

“We are encouraged by the recent amendment to the House transportation plan to keep tolls off of I-95.  Legislators clearly understand the devastating impact that tolling I-95 will have on the Commonwealth.  While this is a step in the right direction, we will keep fighting until legislation passes ensuring that I-95 remains toll free,” said Dale Bennett, President and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association.

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