Committee lays out funding options for state roads needs

Among the committee's suggestions were putting tolls on Interstates 95 and 77 and increasing the vehicle registration fee by $30.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A statewide transportation committee met Wednesday to lay out its options for funding road projects throughout the state.

The 21st Century Transportation Committee, charged by the governor with the task of reducing congestion and improving efficiency, wants to raise $1 billion a year for the next 10 years to pay for new roads and to fix bridges.

Among the recommendations that were put forth Wednesday were increasing the vehicle registration fee by $30 and putting tolls on Interstates 95 and 77 (and possibly 40 and 85).

Transportation taxes among the options were:

  • Removing the cap on the state gas tax. The committee says the cap will cost the state approximately $430 million in revenues for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
  • Increasing the highway-use tax (from 3 percent to 4 percent ) on vehicle purchases over two years. That would generate up to an estimated $200 million a year.
  • Implementing a vehicle miles-traveled fee, which would charge from a quarter-cent to a half-cent per mile for passenger vehicle travel. That would be an estimated $25 to $50 annual fee for the average driver and would generate anywhere from an estimated $165 million to $330 million annually.
The recommendations come the same day the Department of Transportation's chief financial officer reported revenue is down 6 percent while spending is up 11 percent.

Mark Foster told the DOT's board that automotive sales in October were the lowest in 25 years and that he is projecting an 11 percent to 12 percent budget shortfall of $325 million to $250 million for the next fiscal year.

Over the next three years, he said a $900 million to $1 billion shortfall is possible.

The transportation committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 10 to decide what options its members want to put before the General Assembly.