Transportation Funding & the NC DOT

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When the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory  approved the Strategic Mobility Formula, a sweeping change in state guidelines for distributing transportation construction money, they left it to the state Department of Transportation to hammer out important details.

In a recent NewsBreak, the Carolinas AGC described the new funding mechanism. The plan is to create a “data-driven” process and to link transportation infrastructure projects with jobs and economic development.

The state Board of Transportation got its first formal look recently at DOT recommendations for how to do new road projects and capital projects for transit, aviation, ferry and rail improvements. The transportation board and DOT will report their recommendations to a legislative oversight committee in August, with updates to follow in October. DOT leaders hope to start using the new criteria next year to evaluate future projects. They will not change their evaluation of projects already in the pipeline.

As provided in the Strategic Mobility Formula, transportation money will be doled out at three levels: 40 percent for statewide projects, 30 percent in each of seven regions, weighted according to population, and 30 percent divided equally among the DOT’s 14 divisions.

Details: Statewide project spending will be 100 percent data-driven. The DOT workgroup recommended weighting the evaluation of road projects this way: (1) travel time benefits compared with overall project cost (30 percent of total score), congestion reduction (30 percent), economic competitiveness (10 percent), safety (10 percent), and “multi-modal (& freight + military)” (20 percent). The criteria are different for other spending levels. Regional spending would be 70 percent data-driven, with 30 percent of the decision based on “local input.”

The DOT defines local input as half from local elected leaders and half from DOT division engineers. Division spending would be 50 percent data-driven and 50 percent “local input.” The workgroup assigned a 10 percent weight to “economic competitiveness,” a category defined to cover increasing productivity by reducing travel times and creating jobs.  Read More.