and slogans haven't been getting it done.
Virginia has obligated half of its discretionary federal transportation stimulus funding.
The Federal Highway Administration has accepted the state's list of $287 million in highway and transit projects proposed for stimulus funding, the Virginia Department of Transportation said yesterday.
June 29 was the deadline for the state to nail down how it will spend 50 percent of the $576.6 million in special federal money for transportation.
The 50 percent obligation milestone means that the Commonwealth Transportation Board, VDOT and the state Department of Rail and Public Transportation have been given the green light to begin spending the discretionary funding for transportation projects statewide.
VDOT has advertised $246 million in projects and has awarded $81 million in contracts so far.
Most Virginians look at VDOT and see an agency so fiscally emaciated that it can't even afford to keep rest areas open or medians mowed.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell looks at the Virginia Department of Transportation and sees ... flab.
He told The Washington Times that if he's elected governor, he'll seek budget cuts for the transportation agency, along with Virginia's chintzy Medicaid program.
McDonnell followed up a pledge to cut two crucial and severely underfunded programs with this bit of positive, happy nonsense:
"I'm trying during this campaign to help to rebrand our party as the party of positive, happy, friendly, conservative leadership that's pro-growth, pro-free enterprise, pro-economic development. And that's really what we stand for."
There's nothing pro-growth about starving Virginia's transportation program -- which is why the Virginia Chamber of Commerce understands the need for "dedicated, stable and permanent revenue sources" to fund transportation, even as McDonnell's party remains reflexively opposed to any solution involving tax increases.
Sadly, McDonnell believes the state GOP's problems are about image, not substance -- and mainly a reflection of the failures of the national party.
"The Republican brand at the federal level has been tarnished six out of the last eight years, or the eight years where the Bush administration had a Republican majority and yet the national debt about doubled. We did not make progress on Social Security and immigration. We had congressmen doing some bad things that landed them in prison. That is not a great brand to create for the Republican Party," McDonnell told The Washington Times.
It's certainly true that the national party has been the root cause of many of its own woes, but the state party hasn't exactly been covering itself with glory.
For instance, in Wednesday's Washington Post, state Republicans had the absolute gall to complain that Virginia was the last state to complete its application for highway funds from the federal stimulus package.
"Of everything Virginia receives in its package, the one item that would stimulate the economy is the money for transportation," Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, R-Hanover, told The Post. "It's difficult to understand why we would not be moving faster."
Really? Is it so difficult? Since he took office, Gov. Tim Kaine has been wrestling with the House GOP over funding for transportation. VDOT has had to slash billions of dollars in projects as its funding has, as predicted, dried up.
In recent months, VDOT has only had money enough for routine maintenance, not new construction. As Bob Chase, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, told The Post, "This delay is [due] in part, to a large degree, that Virginia is failing to adequately fund transportation."Read more