Planetizen Managing Editor James Brasuell tries to predict the big ideas and trends that will dominate the discussion about the future of land use, planning, and development in the first year of the new decade.
Nevada is one of 15 states in the Western Road Usage Charge Consortium that are considering a transition from funding their transportation budgets largely by taxing the gallons of fuel that vehicles burn to charging drivers for miles driven.
Having completed a pilot program last year, the Washington State Transportation Commission will hear a report in October and vote in December on phasing out its 49.4 cents per gallon gas tax, fourth highest in the nation but not indexed to inflation.
On July 1, Illinois and Ohio increased gas taxes by double digits: 19 cents per gallon and 10.5 CPG, respectively, followed by California at 5.6 CPG, all due to legislation passed this year or in 2017. Diesel tax hikes were even higher.
Reducing the number of traffic lanes to improve bike and pedestrian safety can be inherently controversial when auto travel times are increased, and it can upset motorists further when they learn gas taxes are funding those safety improvements.
Currently, electric vehicles pay a $17.50 annual registration fee in Illinois. A bill to double the 19 cents per gallon gas tax, unchanged in almost 30 years, would also increase the EV fee over 57-fold to $1,000.
The 3 cent gas tax and 6 cent diesel tax increases are among the lowest of any states that have hiked fuel taxes since 2013, but combined with other revenue sources in the legislation, plus an upcoming sales tax ballot measure, it's historic.
After Minnesota's new Democratic Gov. Tim Walz proposed a 20-cents gas tax hike over two years, even leaders in his own party were caught off-guard, but one-third of the tax increase will replace the diversion of general funds to roads.
The incoming chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), points to gubernatorial races and a California ballot initiative to show there's no peril for legislators to hike the gas tax.
After the Rhode Island General Assembly passed controversial legislation in February 2016 spearheaded by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), the first two of what will be 13 truck-only toll gantries became operational on June 11. Results are looking good.
Rep. Bill Shuster, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wants to hike gas and diesel taxes by 15 and 20 cents per gallon, respectively, add two new user fees on bicycles and electric vehicles, and test VMT fees.
U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
The Hoosier State is on a roll, infrastructure speaking. Having passed its largest highway investment package last year based on a 10-cents per gallon gas tax hike, it initiated a study to determine the revenue potential for tolling interstates.
Pilot programs are not the real thing, warned Michael Lewis, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, testifying at a House transportation subcommittee on March 7. Colorado completed a successful four-month pilot last April.
During a closed-door meeting Wednesday with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, President Trump endorsed hiking the gas tax by 25-cents per gallon to help pay for the $200 billion investment and restore solvency to the Highway Trust Fund.
Without an automatic adjustment for gas taxes, revenue from the tax declines due to increasing fuel efficiency standards while road maintenance and construction costs increase due to inflation. Witness Wisconsin's woes.
Already California, Indiana, Montana, South Carolina (overriding a governor's veto), Tennessee, and Utah* have raised gas taxes this year, while last year was a drought—only New Jersey increased its gas tax.
On April 6, the Senate and Assembly passed a comprehensive transportation funding package that it had been unable to do for years, thanks to much deal-making by Gov. Jerry Brown. The gas tax will increase by 12 cents per gallon on November 1.
Pennsylvania, the state that had the highest gas tax last year, saw the highest gas tax increase of 7.9 cents per gallon, the final increment of a 2013 law. Michigan's 7.3 cents tax increase, signed into law in 2015, is the second largest increase.
Colorado residents are now being recruited to participate in a four-month program to evaluate how motorists react to being charged by the mile driven rather than gallon of fuel burned. Sagging fuel tax revenues are the impetus for the pilot program.
Two notable transportation developments occur in California on July 1. First, a pilot road charge program begins—5,000 motorists will be charged by the mile driven. Second, the gas tax drops by 2.2 cents. An analysis by ITEP looks at both.