In conjunction with the budgeting process for Fiscal Year 2018, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is looking at how to optimize funding sources for its Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). At the Board’s Finance Committee meeting Feb. 21, supervisors and discussed how their plans would benefit from the potential for significant funding from statewide sources.
The CIP budget is about 5 percent, or $125 million, of the county’s annual $2.5 billion budget. The plan is updated annually, and is based on a six year framework for upcoming projects.
In Loudoun, that includes dozens of plans to construct everything from parks to community centers. The biggest priority in recent years has been transportation, chiefly roads, and funding projects to alleviate Loudoun’s worsening congestion.
State government also has mechanisms to help traffic problems across the Commonwealth. Loudoun, Virginia’s third-most densely populated jurisdiction, is still one of the faster growing nationwide, and the county has been able to secure an important share of the state’s appropriations.
Two of the biggest funding mechanisms are the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA). The CTB allows counties and towns to submit their proposals for funding and uses a metric called SmartScale based on congestion relief, awarding money based on the projects with the greatest need.
For this fiscal year, Loudoun County submitted 24 projects totaling over $592 million in state funding requests. Loudoun submitted projects it thought had the best chance of lining up with the SmartScale metrics, and not those it necessarily considered its biggest priorities. CTB awarded funds for seven of the projects totaling nearly $81 million, though it has not yet announced when it will disperse these funds. The projects are:
• Waxpool Road at Loudoun County Parkway, $277,160.
• Park and ride lots (One Loudoun and Western Loudoun), $3,663,400.
• Arcola Blvd (Route 50 to 606), $28,969,930.
• Transit Buses, $7,200,000.
• Route 7 at Route 690 interchange, $9,564,900.
• Route 7 at Route 287 interchange improvements, $11,390,700.
• Westwind Drive (State Street to Ladbrook), $19,821,410.
While those seven projects are expected to cost nearly $166 million, the $81 million is a welcome offset to the overall cost. In total, The County is looking to add an additional two dozen new and expedited projects totaling nearly $602 million over the six period of the CIP plan, and with the county’s ongoing need for infrastructure enhancements, every bit helps.
One project that didn’t receive aid from the CTB was the Northstar Blvd (Route 50 to Shreveport) project. Supervisors expressed optimism that that project could be funded through the NVTA. Created by the sweeping 2013 Transportation Bill, NVTA is designed to finance road and mass transit expansion, and is funded by state sales taxes. Unlike the CTB, allocations are based in large part on the perceived needs of its member jurisdictions.
Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Vice Chair Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) both serve on NVTA, and believe their relationships there will help secure funding.
Another factor for optimism is the extra funding available from the Interstate 66 expansion. That project was funded in part through a private-public partnership, which left as much as $200 million in government dollars available for other efforts by the NVTA.
“I think the odds of funding Northstar through NVTA have gone up significantly because there’s money there to make it happen,” Buona said.
Still, there are many factors that could impact Loudoun’s plans. Predicting how funding will be allocated among more than 100 competing jurisdictions in Virginia is not a science.
Further complicating things is Metro. With the rail system facing significant budget deficits, it may go after funding from NVTA too.
Meanwhile little is known about the impact of federal spending. While President Donald Trump has promised to enhance nationwide infrastructure, county leaders aren’t sure how or if this will materialize in the form of federal funding for Loudoun and surrounding jurisdictions.