The state of North Carolina can now move forward with plans to borrow up to $3 billion to get transportation work done.
Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law the North Carolina Bond Act. Previously SB758, the new law permits the state to tap $300 million in bonds annually over the next decade. In addition, the state is forbidden from using the money for toll work or non-highway projects.
The governor’s office described the new financing tool as a way to “help expedite critical highway projects.”
“Build NC is a bipartisan effort that pulled Republicans and Democrats together to help deliver critical transportation projects to communities more quickly, helping North Carolina attract opportunities and stay competitive,” Cooper said in prepared remarks.
Money from the state Highway Trust Fund will be used to pay back the debt. The fund receives fuel and vehicle sales taxes and Division of Motor Vehicle fees.
Critics said voters should be able to make the final decision on any new state debt.
Advocates said another form of transportation revenue is necessary because they believe that fuel tax money is plateauing as more people use more efficient vehicles.
“Transportation is the backbone of our state’s economic competitiveness and our quality of life,” stated Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. “Build NC is a tool that will allow us to continue strong project delivery.”
The legislation specifies the bond money will be divided between the state Department of Transportation’s “division needs projects” and “regional impact projects.”
The division needs designation involves the state’s 14 transportation divisions. The divisions are local groupings of counties.
Regional impact projects compete for funds in regions made up of two NCDOT transportation divisions.
The maximum amount of bonds for any one project could not exceed $300 million.
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