Election a Precursor for Highway Funding?

According to a report in Congressional Quarterly Politics, Congress has been quite reluctant in the past to raise the federal gasoline tax to fund road and bridge projects. The 18.4 cents-per-gallon tax has remained the same since 1993.

But in last week’s election, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association tracked 32 ballot initiatives in which voters were asked to pay more taxes or approve bonds to fund local transportation projects. Approval came in 78% of those cases, according to the organization.

California voters approved a bond issue that could go as high as nearly $10 billion for high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A half-cent sales tax hike per $10 purchase will fund commuter train service in portions of Washington state and in Greensboro, North Carolina, a $134 million bond was approved for 70 projects, ranging from bridge repairs to bike lanes.

Association experts think the local successes may prompt Congress to reconsider its opposition as significant funding increases of some type will be needed for infrastructure needs. Others say citizens are willing to pay more locally because they see the end result of their investment, but question further allocations to Washington.

Bottom line: More money is needed and no one appears to know where it is going to come from. It certainly makes Indiana’s Major Moves, and its fully financed 10-year infrastructure plan, look even better every day.