The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded US$15.5m in Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) grants to six states that are exploring new ways to fund highway and bridge projects.
FHWA officials have said that alternatives to conventional financing are seen as imperative, due to the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) gradual inability to keep pace with increasing construction and repair costs across the USA.
The STSFA grants fund projects to test the design, implementation and acceptance of user-based alternative revenue tools, such as ‘road pricing’ or road usage charging (RUC). 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 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 will also evaluate the reliability and security of the technologies available to implement mileage-based fees.
The STSFA grants are awarded to:
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) The US$1.75m project will explore mechanisms to collect revenue at pay-at-the-pump charging stations;
Colorado DOT (CDOT) The US$500,000 project will investigate data collection mechanisms;
Delaware DOT (DelDOT) in partnership with the I-95 Corridor Coalition The US$975,000 project will study equitability and privacy issues in a multi-state region;
Missouri DOT (MoDOT) The US$2.77m project will conduct public outreach on concerns related to equity and data security issues;
Oregon DOT (ODOT) The US$2.31m project will initiate improvements to Oregon’s existing road usage charge program;
Oregon DOT (ODOT) in partnership with the Western Road User Charge Consortium (WRUCC) The US$2.59m project will 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 State DOT (WSDOT) in partnership with the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) The US$4.6m project will conduct public outreach with users regarding method for assessing and collecting fees.
“To ensure the US 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 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.”