FAQs

Regional Context

1. What is the NVTA?


VIDEO: ABOUT NVTA
Planning, Programming, Funding and Public Input Explained in 3 Minutes

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) was created in 2002 by the Virginia General Assembly. The NVTA’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Conducting project planning, prioritization and funding of transportation projects for the counties and cities embraced by the Authority
  • Maintaining Northern Virginia’s Long Range Transportation Plan

The NVTA’s member jurisdictions include the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

The NVTA’s governing body is comprised of 17 members; nine are the chief elected officers, or their designees, of the nine counties and cities that comprise the Authority; two are members of the House of Delegates; one is a State Senator; and two are citizens appointed by the Governor. In addition, the Director of Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, or designee, and a representative of the five towns which maintain their own roads (Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville  and Vienna) serve as nonvoting members.

2. What are NVTA’s primary responsibilities?

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is responsible for long-range transportation project planning, prioritization and funding for regional transportation projects in Northern Virginia. The NVTA’s policies and priorities are guided by two overarching goals: reduce congestion and move the greatest number of people in the most cost-effective manner. These two goals are combined with performance-based criteria such as the ability to improve travel times, reduce delays, connect regional activity centers, and improve safety and air quality. The Authority works toward regional consensus when setting regional transportation policies and priorities for transportation projects. The Authority is also charged with developing and updating the long-range regional transportation plan for Northern Virginia.

3. What is TransAction, and why is it important?

TransAction is the name of NVTA’s long-range transportation plan for Northern Virginia. A variety of projects and programs are required to meet the complex transportation needs of Northern Virginia. The Plan identifies regional projects that reduce congestion and improve travel throughout the region. NVTA can only use its regional revenues for projects (or subsets/combinations thereof) included in the project list associated with the current version of TransAction.

NVTA updates TransAction every five years. The current plan was adopted in October 2017 and is in the process of being updated and is anticipated to be adopted by the end of 2022.

4. What is NVTA’s Six Year Program, and how does it relate to TransAction?

NVTA’s Six Year Program includes selected TransAction projects, funded with NVTA’s regional revenues. NVTA adopted its inaugural Six Year Program in June 2018, using NVTA’s regional revenues for FY2018 through FY2023. NVTA updates the Six Year Program every two years, primarily adding regional revenues for the fifth and sixth years. Prior to the first Six Year Program and others adopted in subsequent years, NVTA adopted three funding programs for its FY2014 revenues, FY2015-2016 revenues, and FY2017 revenues. For a full listing of NVTA-funded projects, please visit this webpage.

5. What jurisdictions and agencies are involved in TransAction?

All of the NVTA’s nine member jurisdictions are involved in this long-range planning effort along with other regional and state agencies.

The NVTA’s member jurisdictions include the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

The NVTA’s governing body, referred to as the Authority, is comprised of 17 members; nine are the chief elected officers, or their designees, of the counties and cities embraced by the Authority; two are members of the House of Delegates who reside in different counties or cities embraced by the Authority; one is a member of the Virginia Senate who resides in a county or city embraced by the Authority; and two are citizens appointed by the Virginia Governor, one a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board who resides in the county or city embraced by the Authority and the other appointee is a person with significant experience in transportation planning, finance, engineering, construction or management who resides in a county or city embraced by the Authority. In addition to the aforementioned voting members of the Authority, non-voting members include the Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), or designee, the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, or designee, and a chief elected officer of one of the five towns which maintain their own roads (Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville and Vienna).

Other agencies that participate in TransAction include Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT),  Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA), Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), VanPool Alliance, Transportation Planning Board (TPB), Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks).

Funding

6. What are the sources of NVTA’s revenues?

The General Assembly enacts legislation that stipulates the annual revenue sources for NVTA.

  • Sales Tax
  • Grantors Tax
  • State Recordation Tax Transfer
  • Heavy Truck Diesel and Registration

Pursuant to Virginia General Assembly House Bill 1414 (HB1414)/Senate Bill 890 (SB890) effective on July 1, 2020, the General Assembly amended numerous laws related to transportation funds, revenue sources, construction, and safety programs. The bill adopted numerous structural changes to the transportation funding system in the Commonwealth. Most transportation revenues are now being directed to a new Commonwealth Transportation Fund and the existing Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund. Funds are then disbursed, based on codified formulas, to sub-funds established to meet the varying transportation needs of different modes of transportation.

7. Does NVTA allocate all its revenue to the Six Year Program?

No. Per Virginia Code, NVTA distributes its revenues between the Regional Revenue Fund (70 percent of revenue) and the Local Distribution Fund (30 percent of revenue). NVTA funds the Six Year Program from the Regional Revenue Fund deploying 70 percent of revenues received to projects determined solely by NVTA. NVTA allocates the Local Distribution Fund revenue to member jurisdictions (counties and cities in Northern Virginia) for transportation purposes of their choice.

View both the 70 percent and 30 percent projects and funding, here.

8. How can I learn more about transportation projects the NVTA is funding?

Get real-time project status updates by visiting the NoVA Gateway. This dashboard allows you to search for NVTA-funded multimodal transportation project updates by project name, location, transportation mode, and more!

TransAction Project List

9. What projects are considered in TransAction?
The draft TransAction Plan currently open for public comment through September 18, 2022, includes a comprehensive list of 429 regionally significant projects representing various modes of transportation, including roadways, transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and transportation technologies. The projects were developed based on (but not limited to) previous TransAction plans (including the current version which was adopted in October 2017), jurisdictional comprehensive plans, and transit development plans. The TransAction Plan also considers how future advances in technology may affect the transportation landscape in coming years.

 

 

10. Why are some projects in TransAction outside of Northern Virginia?

In a region that is interconnected, TransAction is a geographically unconstrained need-based Plan which considers projects that would improve travel and mobility in Northern Virginia, even if the project itself is located outside of Northern Virginia. Projects located outside of Northern Virginia could alleviate bottlenecks that impact travel and mobility in Northern Virginia or provide alternatives that alleviate issues elsewhere in the Northern Virginia transportation system. Projects outside of Northern Virginia would require funding from neighboring jurisdictions to be implemented. These extra-territorial projects account for more than $29 billion of the TransAction total.

 

 

11. What projects does TransAction include in my neighborhood?

An interactive TransAction map allows you to see the location and description of each project. Please visit the map here to see where each of the projects are located.

 

 

12. Does my opinion and comment really matter?

Yes. Feedback from the public who travel throughout the region is an important part of the TransAction update process. All comments will be reviewed as part of the evaluation stage and a comprehensive report of all comments will be presented to Authority members and made available to the public.

 

 

13. Can NVTA fund all the projects in TransAction?

The projects included in the draft TransAction Plan looking out to 2045 are estimated to cost more than $75 billion to construct. Even if NVTA can sustain current funding levels, by 2040, those potential revenues may not reach 10% of the level of funding required. Additionally, TransAction includes projects that are not wholly within Northern Virginia and would require funding from neighboring jurisdictions to proceed. These extra-territorial projects account for more than $29 billion of the TransAction total. Therefore, NVTA does not expect to be able to fund all the projects in TransAction. 

 

 

14. How are the projects in TransAction evaluated?

NVTA uses custom-built modeling tools to evaluate how the TransAction projects will perform against a set of performance measures in 2045. More information about the performance measures can be found here. They include:

  • Total Person-Hours of Delay in Autos
  • Total Person-Hours of Delay in Transit
  • Duration of Severe Congestion
  • Transit person-miles in dedicated/priority Right-of-Way (ROW)
  • Access to jobs by car, transit and bike
  • Access to jobs by car, transit and bike for Equity Emphasis Area (EEA) residents
  • Quality of access to transit and the walk/bike network
  • Potential for safety and security improvements
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Transportation System Redundancy

The modeling tool is based on the Transportation Planning Board’s (TPB) regional travel demand model and integrates advanced features such as connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), ride-hailing trips (e.g. Uber, Lyft), and dynamic traffic assignment using DTALite. This modeling tool is able to assess the impacts of changes to the transportation network on most of the TransAction performance measures. A few of the performance measures are evaluated using other means, including the safety impacts and quality of access to transit and the bike/pedestrian network. 

 

 

15. Why is TransAction evaluating performance so far in the future?

Long-range transportation planning has its origins in the fact that infrastructure can take years/decades to come to fruition. Therefore, it is important that a distant horizon is set when planning for future capacity and growth. Northern Virginia has experienced significant growth in the last 25 years, resulting in congestion on our region’s roadways and transit systems. That growth is expected to continue, adding an additional 600,000 residents and 500,000 jobs by 2045. NVTA proactively plans for transportation network changes by evaluating how well TransAction projects will help to mitigate the congestion new residents and jobs are likely to create and considers multiple scenarios (such as technology advancements) on how travel and mobility trends will change in the future.

 

16. How are the scenarios being used in the TransAction process?

NVTA recognizes the uncertainty inherent in predicting the future of transportation, especially given how significantly trends like widespread telework, e-commerce, ride-hailing, electric vehicles and connected and automated vehicles could impact the future of travel in Northern Virginia. To prepare for this uncertainty, NVTA models and analyzes three alternative scenarios to understand if the region should consider proactively planning for some needs that may not yet be observable. NVTA also uses the scenarios to understand if the projects included in TransAction will still be good investments if the future of transportation looks significantly different than what we might currently be expecting.

 

17. Does TransAction make recommendations about which projects should be funded and constructed?

No, TransAction does not make recommendations about which projects should be funded. Rather, TransAction identifies how the projects included in the Plan would help make progress towards achieving NVTA’s vision for transportation in Northern Virginia. NVTA’s vision is “Northern Virginia will plan for, and invest in, a safe, equitable, sustainable, and integrated multimodal transportation system that enhances quality of life, strengthens the economy, and builds resilience.” Decisions about which projects to fund are made as part of the Six Year Programming process. For more information on the Six Year Programming Process, please see the FAQs here, and latest Six Year Program phases here.

 

18. Does the NVTA look at the reduction in vehicle emissions in its evaluation and planning processes?

NVTA addresses the reduction in vehicle emissions through adopted performance measures. In December 2021, NVTA adopted 10 performance measures utilized to conduct the quantitative analyses in both Northern Virginia’s long-range plan, TransAction, and the NVTA’s funding program, Six Year Program. One of the ten performance measures focuses specifically on reducing vehicle emissions.

 

19. How is the NVTA advancing decarbonization of the transportation system?

NVTA adopted a Transportation Technology Strategic Plan (TTSP), comprised of strategies that include supporting transportation technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, identifying measures to address avoidable increases in passenger vehicle miles traveled, supporting the deployment of technologies that increase travel options and awareness of them, along with others. You can read about Strategy #8: Advance Decarbonization of the Transportation System, here.

 

20. How can I stay informed of the latest NVTA activities and initiatives involving environmental impacts, sustainability and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?

We encourage you to sign up for our NVTA Update and Driven by InNoVation newsletters, a great way to stay in the know and get updates on NVTA’s latest activities. By subscribing to Driven by InNoVation, you’ll get the latest updates on the TTSP and our Transportation Technology Committee’s activities and discussions, as well as a recap of our annual Northern Virginia Transportation Roundtable. In fact, during a previous Roundtable, decarbonization and sustainability were addressed. Please sign up here to receive our newsletters: thenovaauthority.org/about/contact-us.

 

Recent Updates

NVTA’s 2019 Transportation Perception Survey Results

The February 13, 2020 Authority business meeting kicked off with Keith Jasper, Principal, Transportation Planning and Programming, NVTA, and Dee Allsop, Ph.D., Founding Partner, Heart+Mind Strategies, presenting the results of NVTA's 2019 Transportation Perception...

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