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When highway fund runs out, Virginia is in trouble

Wednesday - 5/7/2014, 4:53am  ET

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WASHINGTON -- The federal Highway Trust Fund is going broke, and Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane is urging Congress to pump it up.

"Unfortunately, it has less money coming in than it has going out," says Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

"Fixing it in the short term will require $10 billion to keep the fund solvent through the calendar year. Getting through fiscal year 2015 will take another $8 billion," Wyden says.

The trust fund is bankrolled by the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, which hasn't been raised since 1993.

Virginia, a state not known for its love of taxes, agreed last year to a variety of tax hikes to fund transportation projects to the tune of $3.5 billion.

"Many states are stepping up or have stepped up, but we can only do so much. We need the federal government to do its part," Lane said in testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.

Lane also warned the committee that Virginia road projects could come to a screeching stop if the federal fund goes broke.

"The federal trust fund is facing an impending insolvency. If nothing is done, the consequences will be dire. In Virginia we expect our construction program will grind to a halt this October and imperil our ability to pay contractors for existing contractors. We ask Congress to act to shore this up," Lane testified.

Congress is currently working on a highway bill. Lawmakers say if nothing is done, the Highway Trust Fund would run out of money this summer.

"The federal government has a strong role in surface transportation. This is a partnership with the states and we need a strong, reliable partner," Lane says.

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