Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

SPR 2014

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16 the Professional Engineer Spring 2014 The North Carolina highway system is the largest state-maintained system in the country: motorists $1.6 billion a year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs, about $241 per motorist. And 45% of North Carolina's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. New funding At more than 80,000 miles, the North Carolina highway system is the largest state-maintained system in the country — larger than even Texas. And unlike in most states, because these highways are state-maintained, no local property or sales taxes help fnance the system. When critics point to North Carolina's high gas tax, they omit the fact this is the primary way residents pay for their use of the roads. For that reason, the decline of the gas tax — due to increased vehicle efciency and a decrease in the miles driven — further highlights the need for new sources of transportation revenue. Funding ideas have already been put forth that, while they might not individually fll the projected revenue gap, would certainly begin to address the shortfall. Some of these include: auto insurance surcharges; local vehicle property taxes; wholesale motor-fuel taxes; interstate highway tolling; and vehicle miles traveled fees. NC Go! acknowledges that for tolling, measures should be put in place to minimize the impact to local drivers and businesses. VMT fees remain one of the best options because, like power, water or cable bills, it is a true user fee; it directly links the fee paid by the users and usage of the highway network. Which road to take? So while we have a new plan for how to use existing money, once again, there are no new transpor- tation revenue options ofered, nor is there a plan to address the diminishing power of the motor-fuels tax. Tere still exists a transfer of transportation funds to the General Fund to the tune of more than $250 million. Tis erodes the public's confdence in how transportation funds are used – specifcally, the tax they pay at the pump under the premise it is used to improve and maintain our roads. If North Carolina wants to remain a destination for families and businesses, it has to invest in transpor- tation infrastructure in a manner that signals willing- ness to be a real player — a competitive option to other states. We have to invest in highways, bridges, transit, cycling, pedestrian and other modes of transpor- tation that go beyond maintaining the existing system. We must truly plan for growth but also for the new types of users coming to North Carolina who expect more than roads. Efciently using revenue should always be a priority. Te administration and legislature deserve praise for that. But if the state intends to attract major businesses and industry – serving not just it, but the nation and world, too – it cannot rely on shrinking funding sources that are more than 25 years old that have simply been put into new piles. Charles Hodges is Executive Director for NC Go! – North Carolina's only broad-based organization advocating for increased investment in infrastructure for ALL transportation modes. To fnd out more about supporting NC Go! and advocating for better transpor- tation, visit www.ncgo.org Driving on roads in need of repair costs Tar Heel motorists: $1.6 billion a year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs ABOUT $241 per motorist 80,000 miles MORE THAN North Carolina is the fourth-fastest growing state in the nation. of North Carolina's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition 45% Concepts_Winter14.indd 16 3/27/14 11:34 AM

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