James City County is considering entering a program with the Virginia Department of Transportation to help fund road projects which may otherwise take years to pay for.
The county is considering allocating $5 million in capital improvement programs for road projects like Croaker Road and Longhill Road, which thus far are low priority items for VDOT.
At a Planning Commission subcommittee meeting Thursday, county staff said right now transportation needs total about $200 million, with only $63 million, or 30 percent of those funds available.
Despite the recent transportation funds provided under sales and gasoline taxes by the General Assembly in 2013, Planning Division Director Paul Holt said relatively little money is available for county level projects.
Most of the funds generated through local taxes are being devoted to eight regional mega-projects, the majority of which are located on the Southside.
The lone major project on the Peninsula is expansion of I-64. The initial phase of the project is primarily funded through state money, not local funds though.
To date, James City County has contributed about $10 million in local revenues to the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, the authority which oversees funds generated by the taxes, according to a request of public records made by the Gazette.
"There’s just not a lot of transportation funding to go around and we’re competing against the other Hampton Roads localities," Holt said. Outside of the mega projects, all regional road projects are scored and ranked by a prioritization tool.
County projects are all ranked low, with none of them having funds allocated for through 2021, Holt said. Entering the revenue sharing program with VDOT may allow some of the projects to get done on a quicker timetable, if applications are approved.
The state matches local dollars up to a totall of $10 million. Under the program, the county has to demonstrate that road projects can be completed.
The projects being eyed cost a total of $46 million Holt said, so $30 million of funding would be available under the plan, meaning they likely would have to be paired back to the fiscal constraints.
"You can't just purchase the right of way and then come back and do pavement," Holt said."VDOT likes it because the localities put 'skin in the game' as you might say."
While Virginia cities are in charge of maintaining and building road projects, county roads and state roads are maintained by VDOT. Bryan Hill, county administrator for James City County, said he wasn't concerned providing matching funds for the projects would set a precedent leading VDOT to require localities to provide money in their already dwindling budgets for roads.
With county growth and increased traffic, many roads in James City County are expected to deteriorate in the coming decade, including Route 199.
"This is an ongoing program, it touches projects that may not be ranked high on the VDOT scale," Hill said.
"The program has been incorporated into many communities, we are late in the game and we are currently not receiving funding to move projects that are 20 plus years old."