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Transportation Formula: Increase Gas Tax, Then Fix Roads and Bridges
While legislatures in other states, e.g., California, were unable to come to an agreement on how to raise new revenue or redirect existing funds to repair roads and bridges, Idaho fast-tracked new gas tax and registration fee funds from a transportation funding bill (PDF) that passed in April and was signed by Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter toward 27 projects that the Idaho Transportation Department's board voted to support in May.
"Now, Idaho's Transportation Department [ITD] is breaking down exactly where that money has gone and what projects are coming up next," writes Karen Zatkulak of KTVB, Boise. "The Idaho Transportation Department says they were immediately ready to take their portion of the funding and put it back into roads in desperate need of updates."
"Really it's about maintaining what we have, not adding new lanes, not adding capacity to the system," said Vince Trimboli with ITD.
ITD says the money must be spent on critical projects, top layer work to maintain the life of the roads, along with bigger repairs for damaged areas.
However, the Gem State is not out of the transportation woods yet. "Trimboli says nearly $300 million more is needed just to keep infrastructure up to standards. Despite what they asked for, they got only about $47 million."
That comes as no surprise. Back in April, "Republican Sen. Marv Hagedorn said 7 cents per gallon would only scratch the surface of what Idaho needs to maintain its highways," notes the prior post. Revenue from the April bill was "split 60, 40 between ITD and local jurisdictions," notes Katkulak."
Before the seven-cents gas tax increase, the gas tax hadn't been raised since 1996. "ITD hasn't seen a transportation budget increase in nearly two decades," adds Katkulak. The state's 32-cent gas tax is less than two cents greater than the average state gas tax of 30.29 cents.