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McAuliffe: Virginia To Lose Federal Highway Dollars?

In our first fact-checker item of today's debate at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, we'll take a look at a statement Terry McAuliffe made, not for the first time, that Virginia could soon lose federal highway dollars if it doesn't find new sources of transportation revenue.

It's true. Part of the discussion about Virginia's transportation crisis has revolved around that that more and more of the state's investment in highways has gone toward maintenance and repair rather than new construction. If the state allows its expenditure on construction to dip too low, it will miss out on federal highway dollars that are available on a matching basis to the states.

Currently, Virginia is eligible for about $1 billion in matching federal dollars, but it must spend about $200 million of its own money to qualify. It's generally viewed as a good bargain -- $4 of federal money for every $1 in state funds. But the state is on a trajectory right now not to have the money to take full advantage of the federal pool.

The alternative is to reduce spending on maintenance, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board tomorrow will propose doing just that in its next six-year transportation improvement program. But that path is fraught with peril too, most leaders say.

By Amy Gardner  |  May 19, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Governor's Race Fact Checker , Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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