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Plan to make Virginia Museum of Transportation a state agency stalls in Richmond

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 8:02 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Museum of Transportation will not become a state agency this year.

A General Assembly committee has voted to carry over the bill until the next legislative session, and to study the proposal in the meantime.

Despite a record budget surplus, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee said billions of dollars in proposed spending far outpace the available supply of money.

“Clearly we have some difficult decisions ahead of us,” Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax Co.) told members of the finance committee, “because we are not going to be able to accommodate all, or even most, of these requests.”

And the proposal to make the Virginia Museum of Transportation a state agency was one of the casualties.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke).

“We do need to do studies as to how much it’s going to cost, and what the real impact’s going to be. And staff thinks that’s the case too,” Edwards told WDBJ7 in a virtual interview Wednesday morning. “So I’m a little disappointed, but I think we can get it done next year.”

Before COVID hit, the museum had built its attendance to about 50,000 people per year. As a state agency, supporters believe it could attract close to 100,000.

Bev Fitzpatrick is the museum’s former executive director. He spoke in favor of the legislation during a subcommittee hearing Tuesday in Richmond.

“We’re the only museum probably west of Richmond that has 40% of its attendance that comes from out of state,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “That’s big money for the state of Virginia, so our hope is that with more time we’ll be able to do a better job next year, and maybe come out further ahead than we did this year.”

Fitzpatrick said he’s disappointed with the committee’s decision, but said supporters will continue to promote a plan they believe is good for the museum and for the Commonwealth.

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