Martinsville Bulletin: I-73 bill approved by General Assembly

Martinsville Bulletin: I-73 bill approved by General Assembly

February 26, 2017

By Brian Carlton and Ben Williams

MARTINSVILLE-When work is finished on Route 58, the money could pass over to Interstate 73. The General Assembly signed off on a bill to make that happen this week, with one catch. It has to be approved one more time in 2018 by both the Virginia House and Senate.

Right now, $40 million a year goes from state taxes to the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Fund. The next phase of the project is set to be advertised in 2020. All total, Route 58 is expected to be complete by 2030 at the latest. When that happens, under the terms of SB806, the money would go toward the Interstate 73 Corridor Development Fund.

That doesn't mean construction could start in 2030. Under the Virginia Code, the Virginia Department of Transportation can only start construction once a project is fully funded. Currently, the project has an estimated price tag of $4 billion. At the same time, state Sen. Bill Stanley, the bill's author, feels this is a good next step.

“It's a huge policy statement Virginia has made,” Stanley said. “It shows Virginia is serious about building I-73.”

Stanley argues that it's only fair for southern Virginia to get money for this project, especially when you look back at the last decade of road funding. In that period, Northern Virginia got $6 billion, the Hampton Roads area got $4 billion and this region got less than $900 million.

Local officials say they're also encouraged that the General Assembly gave a tentative approval to the bill.

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