Gov. Northam says new transportation bills could save 120 lives a year

Bills looking to reduce congestion, expand road and rail options

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RICHMOND, Va. – On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam and legislative leaders announced their support for an upcoming package that will plan to improve the current safety of transportation across Virginia.

Previously outlined in House Bill 1414 and Senate Bill 890, the new measures are looking to establish several new transportation programs to reduce congestion in traffic while utilizing state taxes to their fullest potential in both transit and rail service.

“Virginians should be able to get to work or to school safely, without sitting in traffic,” said Northam. “This bold package will reduce congestion, transform transit and rail service, and support economic growth across Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to pass it into law.”

The Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program intends to implement new policies:

  • Banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving
  • Banning open containers of alcohol in vehicles
  • Making failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense
  • Enhancing speed enforcement
  • Allow localities to lower speed limits

These changes are expected to save more than 120 lives a year, according to the governor.

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and the Transit Incentive Program both intend to improve rail service across Virginia. They would involve the following measures:

  • Expanding passenger and commuter rail service
  • Building a new rail Long Bridge across the Potomac River
  • Promoting and supporting regional routes 
  • Making transit more affordable for low income individuals

Combined, this hypothetically will increase the capacity for passengers and freight trains, which should then lower congestion in traffic across the Commonwealth.