On July 9, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) adopted the FY 2020-2025 Six-Year Program, the Authority’s fifth funding program and the most competitive to date. The goal? To reduce traffic congestion in the Northern Virginia region.
Thirteen Northern Virginia localities and agencies requested $1.44 billion in multimodal transportation funding, with $539 million in Authority regional revenues available. The Authority unanimously voted to fund 21 of the 41 transportation projects submitted for funding consideration, for full or partial funding.
The fully funded projects will receive sufficient funds to advance to construction, while the partially funded projects will advance to the early phases of project development, but not necessarily completion.
Monica Backmon, Executive Director at NVTA, explains that the Six-Year Program is updated on a biannual basis, and that they issued a call for projects in July 2019. The projects go through an intensive process, including a qualitative assessment. The last component is the public involvement process, in which the public is encouraged to submit comments on the proposal.
“For the most part, our public hearing was conducted electronically,” says Backmon. “We had one citizen who provided testimony in person, and the rest of the citizens pre-registered to provide their testimony via phone.” This was encouraged due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Authority also encouraged written comments via mail or email. In total, they received over 1,000 comments on the projects.
All projects are regional to Northern Virginia and aimed at reducing congestion and getting people to their destinations faster. Hal Parrish, Authority Vice-Chair and Mayor of the City of Manassas, stated that the projects are aimed at “improving the quality of life for Northern Virginians.” Backmon agrees.
“The more time you spend commuting, that’s the less time you’re spending doing other things, whether leisure or going to recreational activities,” says Backmon. “And in this region, we have some of the longest commute times.
The Six-Year Program was inaugurated in June of 2018, with the call for projects in July of 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Authority saw a $240 million reduction in their available revenue. “However, even with that reduction,” says Backmon, “we were still able to invest $539 million for the Six-Year Program.”
Staying on track with the program was important for the Authority, because they know that in addition to reducing traffic congestion, it will be incredibly helpful for the economy of the region and the Commonwealth.
“We wanted to help stimulate the economy,” says Backmon. “The fact that we were able to stay on course, knowing that we had a $240 million reduction, was really significant. We did not have to make any cuts to projects.”
Backmon and her team anticipate another call for projects in July of next year. “Even though our Six-Year Program is from fiscal years 2020-2025, we’ll be adding two years on the back end,” she says. “What we will definitely be taking a hard look at is the revenue picture.”
To learn more about each phase of the Six Year Program Update process, submitted projects, and project descriptions, please visit https://thenovaauthority.org/fy2024-2025-six-year-program-update/.