Build N.C. Infrastructure Investments Approved by State Lawmakers

 Raleigh, N.C. – The state House of Representatives approved the Build N.C. Bond Act of 2018 on Tuesday to accelerate investments in transportation infrastructure projects across North Carolina. 

Senate Bill 758 Build N.C. Bond Act of 2018 provides the state Department of Transportation (DOT) a new financing mechanism to invest up to $300 million each year over the next ten years to speed up the completion of vital projects, many in rural North Carolina.

“This new approach to funding transportation projects will accelerate the seamless movement of people, goods, and services to create jobs and attract industry to North Carolina,” said Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), a co- chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The Build N.C. funds would be repaid using revenues from the state’s Highway Trust Fund.

“Build N.C. is another important step to get politics out of highway funding and address the strain put on our infrastructure by a rapidly growing population,” said Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick), a co-chairman of the House Transportation Committee.  

“As our state’s population expands, shifts, and diversifies, North Carolina remains committed to an objective transportation formula that provides transparency and increases economic development opportunities.”

The financing mechanisms in the legislation require prior approval of the state treasurer and contains safeguards to protect taxpayers, preserve transparency, and ensure accountability in transportation infrastructure investments.

“Improving connectivity in North Carolina’s infrastructure systems is essential to our long-term economic success,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). 

“Build N.C. and the Strategic Transportation Investments law  are models for reaching consensus and investing in infrastructure projects that will improve citizens’ quality of life.” 

“With smarter spending on transportation investments, the state General Assembly has made highways, railroads, ports and airports – the arteries of commerce in North Carolina – more accessible and of higher quality for taxpayers and businesses.”

The legislation requires investments in infrastructure projects for which there is the greatest need based on the data-driven formula in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

Background: The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)

In 2013, the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly enacted the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law and overhauled the state’s traditional approach to developing the State Transportation Improvement Program.

Prior to STI passing in 2013, the legislature selectively approved transportation projects that DOT was told to work on out of the Highway Trust Fund.  This made the selection process – which roads would be completed and when – much more political than the current STIP program.

The legislature used an “equity formula” to allocate funds among DOT’s seven regions, instead of to specific projects, prior to the enactment of STI in 2013.

The equity formula was skewed towards road mileage instead of population and congestion, was not need-based and did not direct DOT which specific projects to actually work on.  There was no objective, strategic process in place for DOT to decide which projects money should be spent on first.  Instead, the legislature gave DOT the directive which projects to work on.

A consequence of the traditional approach to transportation funding prior to STIP was that far more projects were ordered completed by the legislature than funded by the state budget.  The process underfunded transportation needs in North Carolina.

Today, North Carolina’s STIP formula measures factors such as congestion, accessibility, and safety to drive investments based on analysis of the costs and benefits of each project.  The program directs DOT to use an objective process in choosing transportation project investments, instead of legislative politics.

To do so, STIP established a Strategic Mobility Formula that prioritizes transportation projects based on a variety of data as well as local input.  The data-driven approach is expected to deliver hundreds of roads and bridges in rural communities and throughout North Carolina.

Enacting and maintaining STIP is a key accomplishment of the Republican-led General Assembly this decade that is strengthening North Carolina’s infrastructure with an improved, objective approach to road construction that is far superior to the process in place prior to its passage in 2013.

A key benefit to North Carolina citizens of STIP’s improved process for road construction funding will be the continued outgrowth of counties surrounding city centers as the state prioritizes key transportation projects to connect rural and urban areas and relieve congestion for commuters.

With nearly 80,000 miles of primary and secondary highway, North Carolina ranks second in the nation in mileage of state-maintained roads, behind only Texas