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Federal Funding Authorized for States to Test Gas Tax Alternatives

The five-year transportation reauthorization known as the FAST Act relies on $70 billion of one-time, non-user fees to fund the $302 billion bill. The act also allows the government to fund the development of sustainable funding options by states.
January 10, 2016, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, "said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that states should begin experimenting with new infrastructure funding mechanisms now, despite the fact that Congress just passed a five-year, $305 billion highway bill last year," writes Keith Laing for The Hill.

"While the bill [PDF] was fully paid for, it did not resolve long-term solvency challenges of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF)," notes Norton's press release. "To help address this problem, the FAST Act establishes the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program, which provides up to $95 million to enable States to test and demonstrate innovative methods to fund needed infrastructure improvements.” 

An analysis [PDF] of the FAST Act [see page 14] by the Washington, D.C.-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association lists the program under Transportation Funding Alternatives:

The bill directs the Secretary to make grants to states to demonstrate alternative user-based revenue mechanisms that could maintain the long-term solvency of the HTF. The goal is to test at least two alternative user-based revenue mechanisms and to provide recommendations for adoption and implementation at the federal level. 

Funding will be up to $15 million in FY 2016 and $20 million per year thereafter, and the federal share will be 50 percent

"DeFazio and Holmes Norton said Thursday that states should get to work now on finding a replacement for the beleaguered gas tax," writes Laing.

"We believe states are the laboratories of democracy, and the FAST Act provides the necessary funding to incentivize States to explore novel user fee structures that provide sustainable transportation funding."

Hat tip to Mayer Horn via University of Minnesota Congestion Pricing Listserv.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, January 7, 2016 in The Hill
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