Congress was unable to get an acceptable bill for highway funding reauthorization in front of President Bush before the election, but it did pass a bill that provides an eight-month extension of current funding (see Hours of Service Stays, Highway Budget Stalls).
The American public apparently places a high value on transportation infrastructure. Of 55 transportation infrastructure measures that appeared on ballots across the U.S., 46 passed, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). The total funding approved by voters is at least $28 billion, says ARTBA.
A total of 12 bond measures proposed to raise capital for transportation projects. Voters in eight states approved 10 of 17 ballot measures that will levy a new tax dedicated to transportation programs, ARTBA continued.
Five of seven ballot measures passed calling for increases in existing transportation related taxes. Nine of 10 measures to increase existing transportation funding mechanisms were also approved, said ARTBA.
Marin County, Calif. residents approved their third transportation-related tax when they raised the sales tax from 7.25% to 7.75% to generate $300 million for projects that include widening Highway 101. In California’s Sonoma County, voters approved a sales tax increase after defeating three earlier bills. Other California sales tax initiatives approved would raise over $13 billion in coming years and include various transportation-related projects.
California and Missouri passed statewide initiatives or constitutional amendments to protect local government funding from being diverted into areas they were not intended for. Missouri’s Department of Transportation reportedly saw only 55 cents of every dollar collected in state highway user fees and taxes. The constitutional amendment approved by voters would protect those funds.