For many years, the office of the Transportation Secretary has hosted an annual transportation conference. However, unlike 2020, when COVID forced the conference into a virtual format, this year’s conference was in-person and virtual. In addition, the on-site registration was limited to 400 people to allow social distancing in the conference hall and dining area.
This was Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary Shannon Valentine’s final transportation conference. The conference focused on the notable transportation accomplishments over the last four years. These included the Interstate Funding Bill and Omnibus Budget bill that infused and helped stabilize transportation funding going into the future. In addition, many mega highway projects were initiated, including the expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, expansion of I-64 between Richmond and Hampton Roads, the extension of express lanes in NOVA and Fredericksburg Districts, and initial widening and safety projects on I-81.
Besides noting the accomplishments of the last four years and looking to the future, sessions at the conference covered topics like the recently passed federal transportation funding bill (IIJA), supply chain disruptions and specific project updates. In terms of IIJA funding for Virginia, over $7.5 billion will come to Virginia during the five-year life of the legislation. This marks a dramatic increase in dedicated federal funding to Virginia, and the legislation provides opportunities for Virginia to apply for discretionary grants that could further the commonwealth’s programs.
With the transition to Governor Glenn Youngkin in January, plans for a 2022 conference are not known at this time. VAA encourages members to send employees to this meeting to hear what is occurring across the entire Virginia transportation program and build relationships with other sectors of the transportation community.