Speaker Ralston promotes Transportation Bill

| November 2, 2015

Transportation

ALBANY — When the General Assembly convenes January in Atlanta, House Speaker one of David Ralston’s top priorities is to begin pushing out the money the state has generated since House Bill 170 took effect on July 1.

Also known as the “transportation bill,” the legislation raised the gas tax for the average driver by about 6 cents per gallon and also imposed an additional $5 per-night fee on hotel stays. Drivers of electric vehicles now pay a $200 annual fee and no longer receive a lucrative tax break. Heavy trucks also face a $50 to $100 annual fee.

Ralston was in the area Monday to cut the ribbon on the new North Leesburg Bypass and later attended a fundraiser for state Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg. In an interview afterwards, the Speaker said he wanted to move the money raised by HB 170 quickly through the House.

“I’d have to go back and check the numbers, but it’s in the range of $120 to $140 million or a little better. This is the state money that has been generated by House Bill 170,” Ralston said. “The Department of Transportation, at the request of the governor and my office, is amending their budget for fiscal year within the next week or two to get that money pushed out of the door so we can actually let some contracts on bridge repairs and some of the pressing transportation needs we have quickly.

“I am hoping if we can get that budget approved we can start letting some contracts shortly after the first of the year.”

Ralston said he’s like to see the new funds go first to existing bridges in need of repair.

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