(Washington, D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) We told you earlier about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's discovery of $1.5 billion dollars in unspent transportation funding. McDonnell, a Republican, found the money through a comprehensive audit of the state's Department of Transportation that he ordered immediately after succeeding Virginia's previous governor, Democrat Tim Kaine.
Now, the Governor is delivering on his pledge to get that $1.5 billion out the door as quickly as possible. Earlier today, he announced that almost three quarters of that newly-discovered funding would be advertised immediately -- meaning contractors can start bidding on it today. Excerpts from McDonnell's announcement are posted below.
But first -- in the interest of balance -- a caveat about that funding: Virginia Democrats say McDonnell didn't really discover any new funding and, in actuality, is drawing down the Transportation Department's cash reserves, which will make the state less able to respond to a natural disaster in the future.
Anyway, here's that announcement:
Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will advertise an estimated $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2011. The estimated economic impact of this work is 33,900 jobs created or supported, as well as $2.83 billion in economic activity and $282.5 million in taxes that come back to the Commonwealth.
According to studies published by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, every $100 million spent on highway construction and maintenance projects adds 3,000 jobs created or supported, $250 million in economic activity and $25 million in taxes that go back to Virginia coffers.
McDonnell directed VDOT to more quickly initiate transportation improvements. A recent independent audit of the agency criticized its ability to move projects through the pipeline. VDOT and members of the McDonnell administration have been developing new business practices that speed the investment of transportation funding.