In an effort to plug an estimated $65 billion hole in road funding,
state transportation officials in North Carolina plan to ask state lawmakers
for more money.
A draft report released this month said the state needs $122 billion
during the next 25 years to repair state roads and cope with population growth.
However, the state expects to have just $57 billion available from fuel taxes
and other state and federal transportation revenues, The Associated Press reported.
The $65 billion shortfall is more than double the $29 billion estimated
two years ago. Increases in the cost of concrete, steel and asphalt are blamed.
The gap is worrisome to Susan Coward, a deputy transportation secretary.
“We need to review options for how we are going to address this $65
billion gap,” Susan Coward told The AP.
House Transportation co-chairman Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham, said
lawmakers in both parties are unlikely to be interested in increasing taxes or fees
because of the politics involved.
“I don’t know if either party is ready to fall on the sword,” Cole
With that in mind, Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said a fuel
tax increase is unlikely. He also said toll roads can solve only a small
portion of the funding problem.
Instead, Tippet told The AP he likes the test program used in Oregon to charge drivers by the mile instead
of the gallon. Heavy trucks could be charged more because they cause more
damage to roads, he said.
Another scenario to help fill the funding void for roads was offered by
Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. Berger said the state should
stop sending road money to the general fund and consider different options to
pay for buses and other mass-transit projects.