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Voters Approve Record 94 Percent of Transportation Investment Initiatives Totaling $14 Billion

Mon November 09, 2020 - National Edition

Voters in 18 states have approved a record 94 percent of state and local ballot initiatives to date, providing an additional $14 billion in one-time and recurring revenue for transportation improvements throughout the country, according to an analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

Results were still pending for some measures at press time, but the analysis by ARTBA's Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC) indicates voters Nov. 3 approved 303 of 322 initiatives, the highest approval rate in the 20 years ARTBA has been tracking initiatives.

"More than ever before, these results prove that improving transportation infrastructure is something Americans voters strongly support," said ARTBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Alison Black.

Among the notable findings:

  • Arkansas voters approved the renewal of a half-cent sales tax increase by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. The measure, originally approved by voters in 2012, is projected to raise approximately $205 million annually for state highways and $44 million annually for localities.
  • In Austin, Texas, more than two-thirds of voters endorsed a $7.1 billion transportation bond, approving it by a 67 percent to 33 percent margin. Revenue raised by the bond offering will fund the initial and ongoing costs of Project Connect, a transit plan anchored by two high-capacity light rail lines serving the city's densest neighborhoods.
  • Voters in Portland, Ore., rejected a 0.75 percent payroll tax on employers that would have funded a $7 billion transportation plan comprised of safety and transit projects.

Historically, most transportation measures are placed on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout. This year, the impacts of COVID-19 caused several notable measures to be dropped. These included measures in the California's Bay Area, Sacramento and Riverside counties that were expected to raise more than $100 billion in revenue over the next 40 years. Proponents are expected to try again in the next election cycle.

The approved 2020 measures will support $12.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.3 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections.

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