Virginia’s transportation funding plan was finally in place. ‘Then COVID-19 hit.’ | Govt-and-politics

Success came in 2013, when the assembly approved a $6 billion transportation funding package — sponsored by then-House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, and supported by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell — much larger in scope than they originally sought. The final package included long-sought regional funding for transportation priorities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne, then a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said Southard played an important role in getting the bill passed, as well as subsequent legislation that led to the creation of the Smart Scale program for ranking state transportation projects and committing money to get them done.

“He was a steadfast proponent of transportation funding,” Layne said.

Later, as transportation secretary under Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Layne said he initially clashed with Southard and his industry over reforms to the Public Private Transportation Act to protect the state’s interests in major highway deals with

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Coronavirus: Shelter in place speeds up several major Bay Area transportation projects

Nearly everyone in the Bay Area is sticking close to home during the coronavirus shelter in place, which has left the region’s roadways unusually empty and sped up typically congested commutes for the relatively few people still on the road.

Caltrans is also taking advantage of the empty lanes, accelerating everything from guardrail installation and pothole plugging to big projects that typically tie up traffic for weeks or months. BART, which is stopping its trains hours early each night, is also taking advantage of the shelter-in-place slowdown by speeding up work to revitalize the region’s rail system.

The goal for these agencies is to get construction work done before the Bay Area reopens and congestion starts to return.

“This is getting a lot of talk in Caltrans and BART and other agencies as well,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “They want to get as much work

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