Citing a decline in federal and state revenue and project estimates that were too low, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed slashing its six-year road plan by $2.9 billion, or 29%, from the program approved last year.

The new plan, which VDOT characterizes as "tentative," was released May 15 and was to be voted on by the Commonwealth Transportation Board on May 16. Transportation Secretary Whittington W. Clement said, "No doubt tough decisions are being made to deliver a transportation program that is truly credible and realistic."

VDOT says the cutback is needed because of reduced federal and state aid as a result of the soft economy. It estimates that revenue decline at $1.8 billion over the next six fiscal years.

In addition, VDOT says it revised project cost estimates that in many cases "that were significantly too low." Moreover, VDOT proposes to hike spending on maintenance by an average of 4% annually, saying that the needs have exceeded current spending levels for such work.

In all, 179 projects would be removed from the program because of a funding shortfall, another 117 shifted from construction to development, and 32 environmental and safety projects added to the plan.