WASHINGTON – The Federal Highway Administration has awarded $15.5 million in grants to six states that are exploring new ways to fund highway and bridge projects.
The agency said the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives grants are imperative because the federal Highway Trust Fund is unable to keep pace with increasing construction and repair costs nationwide.
The trust fund is financed through federal fuel taxes on diesel and gasoline, which haven’t been raised since 1993.
“To ensure the U.S. road system is the best in the world, we can no longer rely solely on the federal gas tax and the Highway Trust Fund,” said Brandye L. Hendrickson, acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
“New sources of funding for the design, construction and repair of our nation’s roadways have never been more necessary, and these grants will help open the door to new financial innovations.”
The grants fund projects to test the design, implementation and acceptance of user-based alternative revenue tools. The agency selected seven proposals from six states – California, Colorado, Delaware, Missouri, Washington and Oregon.
The seven projects will investigate and evaluate various user-based approaches to raising revenue, including onboard vehicle technologies to charge drivers based on miles traveled and multi-state or regional approaches to road user charges.
They will address common challenges involved with implementing user-based fees such as public acceptance, privacy protection, equity and geographic diversity. The projects also will evaluate the reliability and security of the technologies available to implement mileage-based fees.
The seven projects funded under the grants are:
- California Department of Transportation — $1.75 million to explore mechanisms to collect revenue at pay-at-the-pump charging stations
- Colorado Department of Transportation — $500,000 to investigate data collection mechanisms
- Delaware Department of Transportation in partnership with the I-95 Corridor Coalition — $975,000 to study equitability and privacy issues in a multi-state region
- Missouri Department of Transportation — $2.8 million to conduct public outreach on concerns related to equity and data security issues
- Oregon Department of Transportation — $2.3 million to initiate improvements to Oregon’s existing road usage charge program
- Oregon Department of Transportation in partnership with the Western Road User Charge Consortium — $2.6 million to launch a pilot between California and Oregon to connect the two states’ per-mile road user charging systems, to ultimately expand the concept regionally
- Washington Department of Transportation in partnership with the Washington State Transportation Commission — $4.6 million to conduct public outreach with users regarding method for assessing and collecting fees
The grant program was established under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.