Virginia did it. So did Maryland. Now, it’s North Carolina’s turn to tackle transportation funding.
But rather than pursue new revenue sources (and risk anti-tax acrimony) like his counterparts to the north, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is taking a different tact—proposing to revise the way projects are prioritized for the funding already in place.
This past Thursday, McCrory unveiled the Strategic Mobility Formula, which would reallocate NCDOT’s annual $5 billion operating budget to projects based on need rather than the current, 24-year-old geographic-based distribution method.
In doing so, McCrory asserts, the agency will be able to fund more projects over the next 10 years, from 175 under the current approach to more than 260, even though the state’s transportation tax revenue is projects to fall by $1.7 billion during that period.
The proposed Formula creates three categories of projects:
- Traffic congestion and bottlenecks of statewide significance. This category will receive 40% of the available revenue, totaling $6.4 billion over 10 years. Projects will be selected for funding based entirely on data (e.g., crash statistics and traffic volumes).
- Regional projects to increase access and mobility . This category will receive 40% of the available revenue, equaling $6.4 billion over a decade based on regional population. Decisions will based on data (70%) and local ranking by area planning organizations (30%).
- Local projects for congestion relief, safety, and increased connectivity. This category will receive 20% of the available revenue ($3.2 billion over 10 years) shared equally over NCDOT’s 14 transportation divisions. Decisions will be based equally on data and local rankings.
McCrory hasn't ruled out pursuing new tax revenue should shortfalls arise.
North Carolina’s General Assembly has not set adjournment date, so there’s plenty of time for the Strategic Mobility Formula to undergo the required legislative scrutiny. Though the initiative would become effective immediately upon enactment, projects already scheduled for construction would remain funded until the new funding processes are fully in place.