As a commuter myself, I experience the intensity of the traffic on the roads in the First District and I have been working to promote many projects throughout the First District. Traffic congestion is a major issue in our area – I believe that we should extend the HOV lanes on I-95 to exit 126, Massaponax. I supported the Rappahannock River Crossing Project along I-95 between Rt. 17 and Rt. 3 as part of the Atlantic Gateway Program. I have fought for federal funding to help expand and improve commuter capacity of the Virginia Railway Express, including expanding railway operations of the Long Bridge Across the Potomac River and expanding existing platform capacity at many stations within the DC metro area. Additionally, I opposed I-66 toll lanes in their current form by issuing a letter to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
In other parts of the First District, our bridges and infrastructure need special attention. The Coleman Bridge in Gloucester is a connector not only for vehicles to the Middle Peninsula but also for Navy ships traveling between installations. I included a provision in the annual defense authorization that aims to save local taxpayer dollars by requesting the Department of Defense to review the military value of the bridge to determine whether they should split costs in funding bridge management and upkeep. I am also active in bringing stakeholders together to find a state funding solution to fix the Norris Bridge. I recently authored a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, expressing my concerns with the bridge’s safety and urging completion of a replacement for the bridge. In July, I hosted a Norris Bridge Roundtable with county officials of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula and Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation Nick Donohue where we discussed options for innovative funding sources. Moving forward I remain committed to ensuring rural transportation projects are not forgotten.
We must expand access to broadband internet, especially in rural areas. I am leading the effort to bring unserved and underserved regions of Virginia into the digital revolution. This has the potential to expand economic opportunity, improve the lives of millions, and fuel our economy. Broadband expansion should be part of any long-term infrastructure package as it is critical to closing the gap between rural and urban job growth opportunities in Virginia. Last fall I hosted a roundtable on broadband expansion with key stakeholders from the telecommunications industry, small business, and federal government, including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. We discussed the importance of eliminating the labyrinth of red tape and regulations, defining prescriptive easements, establishing dig once policies, and strengthening public-private partnerships. This spring I held a second forum to continue this discussion and to move closer to a solution that will work for all stakeholders. This year, I fought to secure $600 million in new funds for rural broadband expansion in unserved areas and I have been working tirelessly to direct those funds to projects in the First District.