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Election Update 2014: Voters Weigh in on Transportation Issues

Streetsblog.net; Land Line Magazine, cfte.org – November 6, 2014

Earlier this month, voters in states around the country had their say on various transportation-related initiatives. Here are some annual averages from the past few years, followed by a portion of the measures on the ballots this year.

2014 Results YTD

18 States
59 Measures
Win: 42
Loss: 17
Success Rate: 71%

2013 Results

8 States
15 Measures
Win: 11
Loss: 4
Success Rate: 73%

2012 Results

17 States
62 Measures
Win: 49
Loss: 13
Success Rate: 79%

Statewide voters in Louisiana rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow for the investment of public funds into a yet-to-be-created transportation infrastructure bank. In addition, it would have set up a revolving loan program for municipalities to borrow for road improvements.

Maryland voters said yes to amend the state constitution to create a “lockbox” to secure revenue from fuel taxes, vehicles sales tax and registration fees, and transit fees for transportation purposes.

In a loss for transportation funding, Massachusetts voters approved a reversal of a state law that ties the state’s fuel tax rate to inflation, which allows for regular increases.

Oregon voters approved statewide Measure 88, to overturn a 2013 state law to make four-year personal driver licenses available to residents unable to prove they are in the country legally.

Rhode Island voters approved the statewide Question 6 regarding whether to authorize borrowing $35 million to move forward with a variety of upgrades that include repairs to the Providence train station, expanding bus service on popular routes and better links between the city’s airport and train station.

Texas voters approved a statewide Proposition 1 that authorizes rerouting half of the state’s oil and gas severance tax revenue from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the state highway fund. It is estimated to amount to $1.4 billion in the first year.

Wisconsin passed a statewide question of whether to require all fuel tax and vehicle fee revenue to be used only for the state’s transportation system.

In California’s Oakland and Alameda Counties, a half-cent sales tax hike passed the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass in Alameda County, funding nearly $8 billion in transportation projects with most going toward transit, biking, and walking.

Voters in Fairfax County, Virginia, widely approved a transportation bond package full of good stuff. According to Network blog Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling:

The $100 million bond includes $77.5 million in pedestrian projects, $6.5 million in bike projects, and $16 million in spot road projects. The vote shows that Fairfax residents want safe walk and bike routes and are willing to pay for them.

This continues to be an amazing success rate (71%), which tells me Americans are generally okay with paying for transportation, upon the condition that they know what they are going to get for their investment.
JN

Gov. McCrory, DOT Secretary Tata Unveil 25-Year Vision

Governor McCrory’s Press Office – September 17, 2014

Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata recently unveiled the Governor’s 25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina. The plan details the challenges faced by and solutions proposed for each of the state’s four major regions: coastal, eastern, central and western, as well as comprehensive solutions for the whole state.

This 25-year vision builds on the foundation established by the Strategic Transportation Investments law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory last summer. The law changes the way North Carolina funds and prioritizes major transportation projects, allowing the state to make the best possible use of its existing resources over a 10-year period.

While the new law is still in the implementation process, the N.C. Department of Transportation estimates that based on current data it will be able to fund more than twice the number of projects it could under the previous funding formula. The 25-year vision will take these efforts a step further to ensure that the state is maximizing its resources and fully leveraging its infrastructure over the long-term.

The vision does not include a list of specific projects, but rather provides high-level solutions for the state by laying out the future investments needed to help each region and North Carolina as a whole achieve their full potential.

In addition to identifying challenges and solutions, the vision also addresses the critical need for alternative funding solutions that will allow the state to close the growing gap between infrastructure needs and available funding, and invest in the strategic vision.

For more information and to view the Governor’s 25-Year Vision, visit www.ncvision25.gov.

John’s Comment: While I recognize this story was generated from Governor’s office itself, and therefore somewhat self-promoting by nature, I included it because of the way he and Secretary Tata tie transportation to the economy, jobs, healthcare, education and recreation. Nicely done, and I think any DOT in the country would be pleased to have their Governor talk about the importance of transportation the way Governor McCrory does in North Carolina.

Washington State DOT’s Major Project Delivery Process

John Njord has been asked to perform an independent review of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s major project delivery processes.  The review is scheduled to be completed in September 2013 and includes the SR 520 Floating Bridge projects, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Columbia River Crossing.

Tom’s Farewell Editorial, John Njord’s Intro

Editors Note – A few months ago I shared with all of you that my wife, Renae, and I have been called on an LDS mission to serve in Rancagua Chile for three years and supervise the missionary work of about 300 young Mormon missionaries there. Subsequently I also announced that John Njord had come on board at Tom Warne and Associates to take over our ongoing client work and to continue the business I started 12 years ago. The transition has been smooth given John’s amazing national reputation and many years of credible service in our industry. Our clients have confidence in him, as he brings great value to our continuing engagements. John will be a great asset to our future clients and I urge you to call him with your needs, or email jnjord@tomwarne.com.

We are excited to head off to Rancagua in a couple of weeks and so this is the last issue of The Tom Warne Report that I will offer edits on for a few years. John will take over starting this week. I know you will benefit from his insights as he shares his thoughts with you as I have. Jeanette Christiansen will continue doing the research and writing as she has so proficiently done for many years.

For those that want to stay in touch while we are in Chile, this can be done in one of several ways. My current email address (twarne@tomwarne.com) will still work and I will check it periodically. The email address that will go directly to me and which I will use every day for church business as well as for my personal email is tomwarne@ldschurch.org. That will be the best one to use while we are gone. Feel free to email me there. In addition, many of our friends have expressed an interest in a blog that we will be doing. It can be found at warnesinchile.blogspot.com. It will be up and running by July 1st.

We wish all of you the very best in our absence. Thank you all for your expressions of support for our service in Chile. It means a lot. The projects we do are great and exciting but it’s our friends in the industry that make this a great profession.

Warmest Regards,
Tom

DOT Secretary Appointee Downplays Tolls as Funding Solution

Land Line Magazine – May 22, 2013

The top candidate for President Obama’s U.S. Department of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, says interstate tolls should play a small role in the solution to fund shortfalls facing the Highway Trust Fund. In a round of questioning from a Senate committee Wednesday, May 22, as part of his confirmation process to become DOT secretary, Foxx said tolling should only be used as a means to add new capacity.

Foxx was questioned by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, led by Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, and ranking member John Thune, R-SD, about how he planned to run the DOT and solve infrastructure funding challenges.

Foxx told the committee he would use his experience as the current mayor of Charlotte, NC, to deal with the difficult road ahead. He also offered his views on the issues of tolling and a public-private infrastructure bank.

“Tolling, in my work as mayor, has a place,” Foxx told the committee. “But it’s sort of like what I said earlier about an infrastructure bank. We’re not going to toll our way to prosperity in our country. It can be used in some cases to add capacity … but I don’t think it is a complete solution.”

Foxx said his three priorities for transportation are safety, efficiency and building for the future. If the full Senate gives Foxx confirmation, he will take over for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The Tom Warne Report