Alternatives to conventional financing are seen as imperative, FHWA officials said, due to the Highway Trust Fund's gradual inability to keep pace with increasing construction and repair costs nationwide.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently announced $15.5 million in Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) grants to six states that are exploring new ways to fund highway and bridge projects. Alternatives to conventional financing are seen as imperative, FHWA officials said, due to the Highway Trust Fund's gradual inability to keep pace with increasing construction and repair costs nationwide.
“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 Acting FHWA Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “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 STSFA grants fund projects to test the design, implementation and acceptance of user-based alternative revenue tools. FHWA officials 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 on-board 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 will also evaluate the reliability and security of the technologies available to implement mileage-based fees.
STSFA was established under the “Fixing America's Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act.
2017 Grant Selections
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), $1,750,000: The project will explore mechanisms to collect revenue at pay-at-the-pump charging stations.
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), $500,000: The project will investigate data collection mechanisms.
Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) in partnership with the I-95 Corridor Coalition $975,000: The project will study equitability and privacy issues in a multi-state region.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), $2,772,500: The project will conduct public outreach on concerns related to equity and data security issues.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), $2,315,000: The project will initiate improvements to Oregon's existing road usage charge program.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in partnership with the Western Road User Charge Consortium (WRUCC), $2,590,000: The project will launch a pilot between California and Oregon to connect the two states' per-mile road used charging systems, to ultimately expand the concept regionally.
Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in partnership with the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), $4,600,000: The project will conduct public outreach with users regarding methods for assessing and collecting fees.