Between partial governmental shutdowns and political infighting, the prospects of getting a major infrastructure spending bill through Congress seem pretty dim right now. But a new study from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank shows that a patchwork of regional initiatives may be picking up the slack.
Voters in 34 states across the country approved nearly $41 billion in new investment for transportation at the ballot box last year, according to the Eno Center for Transportation's analysis of 2018 transportation ballot measures.
Eno analyzed hundreds of ballot measures considered by voters in 2018 and provided breakdowns by transportation mode, funding source, and geography. All told, voters passed 142 transportation ballot measures last year, 77 percent of the 185 measures considered. Or to put it in dollars, $40.9 billion was approved, 58 percent of the $70.7 billion that had been proposed.
Filtered by mode, voters approved more ballot measures to raise money for roads than for any other mode, passing 80 of the 113 road measures, according to the study, Transportation at the Ballot Box 2018. However, the transit-specific measures that passed will provide more new funding by dollar value than the road-specific measures ($9.3 billion for transit vs. $7.5 billion for roads).
Most of the projects approved will be funded through bonds (48 measures, raising $3.4 billion) or property tax increases (40 measures, raising $640 million). A smaller number (34) will be funded via sales taxes; however, those sales tax-funded measures will raise far more money ($31.7 billion) than those that rely on bonds or property tax increases. Alternate sources of funding—such as fuel taxes or transportation-specific user fees like tolls and vehicle registration fees—were more rare, the study found.