Tony Tata, the state transportation secretary, said Friday his staff is studying various options on how North Carolina can come up with new revenue for road construction.
The state faces a $1.7 billion decline in highway revenue over the next decade, because cars are more efficient bringing in less fuel tax revenue. At the same time, the state is projected to grow by 1.3 million people during the next decade.
“How do you make up for that infrastructure gap?” Tata asked in a meeting with reporters.
His staff is looking at what other states have done including being more aggressive in borrowing money, more public-private partnerships such as in the building of the Triangle Expressway toll road, and various sorts of adjustments in taxes.
“These are all just options we are brainstorming,” Tata said. “Revenue discussions are going to be heated discussions. We are looking at other states that have done this – what worked and what didn’t work.”
He hopes to have some recommendations for the short session of the legislature when it returns in May. “I think conversation could start in the short session. I think it’s something that will need a lot of discussions. Our hope would be at least by the end of the next long session to have a solution.”
Tata said the Triangle Expressway has surpassed ridership and revenue projections, suggesting that people are willing to pay to avoid congestion.
He also noted that Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell recently pushed through an $880 million road plan that cut the gas tax but raised other taxes such as taxes on Internet sales.
“There is no hard plan right now,” Tata said. “It’s all in draft. It’s professionals sitting around a table coming up with ideas and looking at how we are going to pay for the infrastructure that this state needs in the future.”