Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Voters take action on transportation projects and funding in ballot measures.

The 113th Congress chose to kick the can down the road on infrastructure investment by passing a short-term funding bill for the Highway Trust Fund. But that didn’t stop voters from taking matters into their own hands. From Massachusetts to Seattle, transportation and infrastructure initiatives were on the ballots on Election Day. Two-thirds of transportation-related measures were approved, including 63 percent of local and county initiatives to increase a gas or sales tax for transportation purposes, an American Road and Transportation Builders Association report found. 

The Too Long, Didn't Read (TL;DR) edition:

Massachusetts voters rejected gas tax indexing, repealing part of a 2013 state law providing for automatic, annual increases of the state’s gas tax. The proposal approved Tuesday does not roll back the initial 3-cent increase, it only repeals the inflationary increases in future years.

Maryland and Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to create a “lockbox” for the state’s transportation funds, making it difficult to use the money for other purposes. The measure restricts transfers out of the state’s transportation fund for other uses, except in extreme cases. In order to move money out of the fund for non-transportation reasons, the governor would have to declare a fiscal emergency and seek approval from the legislature.

Texas tapped oil and gas taxes for transportation, increasing state transportation spending by $1.2 billion to $1.7 billion a year.

Voters in Austin, Texas defeated the Urban Rail Transportation Bond that would have built 9.5 miles of urban rail from Austin Community College’s Highland campus to Grove Boulevard off East Riverside Drive. The measure also contained $400 million for road improvements.

San Francisco voters supported Proposition A, a $500 million bond measure to be used for redesigned streets, more bike and transit-only lanes, updated traffic signals, improved maintenance facilities, and new elevators, and escalators at Metro stations

Alameda County, Calif. passed a $7.8 billion transportation tax, Measure BB. Money — nearly $5 billion —  will go to transit, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements, including $400 million toward a Livermore BART extension and $1.5 billion to boost AC Transit service. Roughly $3 billion would go to streets and highways — mostly for maintenance, but also for new interchanges on Interstate 80 and carpool lanes on Interstate 680.

Seattle voters approved Proposition 1, which will fund public transportation throughout the city and the region, but overwhelmingly rejected a ballot proposal that would have expanded the monorail system.

Voters in suburban Atlanta’s Clayton County voted overwhelming on Tuesday to join the city’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system in the first jurisdictional expansion in the agency’s more than 40 year history. 

Tampa Bay voters rejected a transportation initiative. Defeat of this one-penny sales tax hike to pay for the Greenlight Pinellas mass transit plan could result in severe cuts in the county’s bus service over the next few years.

Alachua County, Fla., voters shot down a transportation initiative for a 1-cent sales surtax that could have raised a projected $240 million over eight years for road building and transit projects.

Forsyth County, Ga., voters approved the Transportation Bond Referendum. Of the $200 million in funds, $81 million will be used for projects for which the Georgia Department of Transportation has allocated $93 million in leveraged funding, including the widening of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Bald Ridge Marina Road.