SB720: Highway user fees; localities may establish.

SENATE BILL NO. 720
Offered January 27, 2006
A BILL to amend and reenact §§ 15.2-2001 and 33.1-12 of the Code of Virginia, relating to establishment of highway user fees.
Patron-- Wagner

Introduced at the request of Governor

Referred to Committee on Transportation

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That §§ 15.2-2001 and 33.1-12 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 15.2-2001. Streets, sidewalks and public rights-of-way generally; highway user fees.

Every locality may lay out, open, extend, widen, narrow, establish or change the grade of, close, construct, pave, curb, gutter, plant and maintain shade trees on, improve, maintain, repair, clean and light: streets, limited access highways, express highways, roads, alleys, bridges, viaducts, subways and underpasses. Localities may make, improve and repair sidewalks upon all public rights-of-way and may convert sidewalks to bicycle paths. A locality's power and authority over its public rights-of-way and other public places shall be the same, regardless of whether the public right-of-way or place has been expressly or impliedly dedicated to public use, has been conveyed to the locality by deed, or has been acquired by any other means. Furthermore, any locality may establish highway user fees for highways that are not part of any system of state highways.

§ 33.1-12. General powers and duties of Board, etc.; definitions.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall be vested with the following powers and shall have the following duties:

(1) Location of routes. - To locate and establish the routes to be followed by the roads comprising systems of state highways between the points designated in the establishment of such systems.

(2) Construction and maintenance contracts and activities related to passenger and freight rail and public transportation.

(a) To let all contracts to be administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation or the Department of Rail and Public Transportation for the construction, maintenance, and improvement of the roads comprising systems of state highways and for all activities related to passenger and freight rail and public transportation in excess of $2 million. The Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner shall have authority to let all Virginia Department of Transportation-administered contracts for highway construction, maintenance, and improvements up to $2 million in value. The Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation shall have the authority to let contracts for passenger and freight rail and public transportation improvements up to $2 million in value. The Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner is authorized to enter into agreements with localities, authorities, and transportation districts to administer projects and to allow those localities, authorities, and transportation districts to let contracts for highway construction, maintenance, and improvements within their jurisdictions. The Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation is authorized to enter into agreements with localities, authorities, and transportation districts to administer projects and to allow those localities, authorities, and transportation districts to let contracts for passenger and freight rail and public transportation activities within their jurisdictions. The Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner and the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation shall report on their respective transportation contracting activities at least quarterly to the Board.

(b) The Commonwealth Transportation Board may award contracts for the construction of transportation projects on a design-build basis. The Board may annually award five design-build contracts valued no more than $20 million. The Board may also award design-build contracts valued more than $20 million, provided that no more than five of these latter contracts are in force at the same time. These contracts may be awarded after a written determination is made by the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner or the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, pursuant to objective criteria previously adopted by the Board regarding the use of design-build, that delivery of the projects must be expedited and that it is not in the public interest to comply with the design and construction contracting procedures normally followed. Such objective criteria will include requirements for prequalification of contractors and competitive bidding processes. These contracts shall be of such size and scope to encourage maximum competition and participation by agency prequalified and otherwise qualified contractors. Such determination shall be retained for public inspection in the official records of the Department of Transportation or the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, as the case may be, and shall include a description of the nature and scope of the project and the reasons for the Commissioner's or Director's determination that awarding a design-build contract will best serve the public interest. The provisions of this section shall supersede contrary provisions of subsection D of § 2.2-4303 and § 2.2-4306.

(c) For transportation construction projects valued in excess of $100 million, the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall require that a financial plan be prepared. This plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (i) a complete cost estimate for all major project elements; (ii) an implementation plan with the project schedule and cost-to-complete information presented for each year; (iii) identified revenues by funding source available each year to meet project costs; and (iv) a detailed cash-flow analysis for each year of the proposed project.

(3) Traffic regulations. - To make rules and regulations, from time to time, not in conflict with the laws of the Commonwealth, for the protection of and covering traffic on and the use of systems of state highways and to add to, amend or repeal the same.

(4) Naming highways. - To give suitable names to state highways and change the names of any highways forming a part of the systems of state highways, except such roads as have been or may hereafter be named by the General Assembly.

(5) Compliance with federal acts. - To comply fully with the provisions of the present or future federal aid acts. The Board may enter into all contracts or agreements with the United States government and may do all other things necessary to carry out fully the cooperation contemplated and provided for by present or future acts of Congress in the area of transportation.

(6) Information and statistics. - To gather and tabulate information and statistics relating to transportation and disseminate the same throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Commissioner shall provide a report to the Governor, the General Assembly, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and the public concerning the current status of all highway construction projects in the Commonwealth. This report shall be posted at least four times each fiscal year, but may be updated more often as circumstances allow. The report shall contain, at a minimum, the following information for every project in the Six-Year Improvement Program: (i) project description; (ii) total cost estimate; (iii) funds expended to date; (iv) project timeline and completion date; (v) statement of whether project is ahead of, on, or behind schedule; and (vi) the name of the prime contractor. Use of one or more Internet websites may be used to satisfy this requirement. Project specific information posted on the Internet shall be updated daily as information is available.

(7) Policies and operation of Departments. - To review and approve policies and transportation objectives of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, to assist in establishing such policies and objectives, to oversee the execution thereof, and to report thereon to the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner and the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, respectively.

(8) Cooperation with other agencies and local governments.

(a) To cooperate with the federal government, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and any other organization in the numbering, signing and marking of highways, in the taking of measures for the promotion of highway safety, in research activities, in the preparation of standard specifications, in the testing of highway materials and otherwise with respect to transportation projects.

(b) To offer technical assistance and coordinate state resources to work with local governments, upon their request, in developing sound transportation components for their local comprehensive plans.

(9) Transportation.

(a) To monitor and, where necessary, approve actions taken by the Department of Rail and Public Transportation pursuant to Chapter 10.1 (§ 33.1-391.1 et seq.) of this title in order to ensure the efficient and economical development of public transportation, the enhancement of rail transportation, and the coordination of such rail and public transportation plans with highway programs.

(b) To coordinate the planning for financing of transportation needs, including needs for highways, railways, seaports, airports, and public transportation and to set aside funds as provided in § 33.1-23.03:1. To allocate funds for these needs pursuant to §§ 33.1-23.1 and 58.1-638, the Board shall adopt a Six-Year Improvement Program of anticipated projects and programs by July 1 of each year. This program shall be based on the most recent official Transportation Trust Fund revenue forecast and shall be consistent with a debt management policy adopted by the Board in consultation with the Debt Capacity Advisory Committee and the Department of the Treasury.

(c) To recommend to the General Assembly for their consideration at the next session of the General Assembly, objective criteria to be used by the Board in selecting those transportation projects to be advanced from the feasibility to the construction stage. If such criteria are enacted into law, such objectives shall apply to the interstate, primary, and urban systems of highways.

(d) To enter into contracts with local districts, commissions, agencies, or other entities created for transportation purposes.

(10) Contracts with other states. - To enter into all contracts with other states necessary for the proper coordination of the location, construction, maintenance, improvement and operation of transportation systems, including the systems of state highways with the highways of such other states and, where necessary, to seek the approval of such contracts by the Congress of the United States.

(11) Use of funds. - To administer, distribute, and allocate funds in the Transportation Trust Fund as provided by law. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall ensure that the total funds allocated to any highway construction project are equal to total expenditures within 12 months following completion of the project. However this requirement shall not apply to debt service apportionments pursuant to § 33.1-23.3 or 33.1-23.4.

(12) Financial and investment advisors. - With the advice of the Secretary of Finance and the State Treasurer, to engage a financial advisor and investment advisor who may be anyone within or without the government of the Commonwealth, to assist in planning and making decisions concerning the investment of funds and the use of bonds for transportation purposes. The work of these advisors shall be coordinated with the Secretary of Finance and the State Treasurer.

(13) The powers of the Virginia Aviation Board set out in Chapter 1 (§ 5.1-1 et seq.) of Title 5.1 and the Virginia Port Authority set out in Chapter 10 (§ 62.1-128 et seq.) of Title 62.1 are in no way diminished by the provisions of this title.

(14) To enter into payment agreements with the Treasury Board related to payments on bonds issued by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

(15) Outdoor theaters. - By regulation:

(a) To prevent the erection of moving picture screens of outdoor theaters in such a manner as to be ordinarily visible from any highway;

(b) To require that a sufficient space is left between any highway and the entrance to any outdoor theater to prevent congestion on the highway; and

(c) To require that outdoor theater entrances and exits are adequately lighted and marked.

The term "public transportation" or "mass transit" as used in this title means passenger transportation by rubber-tired, rail, or other surface conveyance which provides shared ride services open to the general public on a regular and continuing basis. The term does not include school buses; charter or sight-seeing service; vehicular ferry service which serves as a link in the highway network; or human service agency or other client-restricted transportation.

(16) Establishment of highway user fees for the systems of state highways. - The Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner may enter into agreements with localities, authorities, and transportation districts to establish highway user fees for any system of state highways or portion thereof that  the localities, authorities, and transportation districts maintain.