The North Carolina Board of Transportation has approved the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), a 10-year transportation plan that includes nearly 1,100 projects in the state over the next decade. The highway projects alone are expected to support the creation of nearly 300,000 jobs. The plan is the first developed using the Strategic Mobility Formula – a method for distributing funding for and prioritizing transportation projects – that was created two years ago with the passage of the Strategic Transportation Investments law (STI).
Using the mobility formula, the N.C. Department of Transportation is able to invest existing transportation revenues more efficiently, funding 303 more projects and helping support about 126,000 more jobs than it could have under the state’s previous funding formula.
The STIP includes projects in all 100 counties and all transportation modes, making it one of NCDOT’s most comprehensive state transportation programs to date. A breakdown of the project numbers can be found here.
“This new data-driven formula takes the politics out of transportation and allows us to invest in more projects that will increase safety, reduce congestion and enhance economic competitiveness.” Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said. “These projects align with Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for Transportation by connecting small towns and big cities, products to markets and people to jobs, healthcare, education and recreation.”
The Strategic Mobility Formula directs 60 percent of available funding to improvements on the regional and local levels to ensure NCDOT is meeting the varied needs of communities throughout North Carolina. The remaining 40 percent goes to projects of statewide significance.
While projects on the statewide level are determined based only on data, local input is considered in determining projects at both the regional and division levels to ensure that local transportation priorities are addressed.
Planning organizations across the state submitted projects to NCDOT for evaluation at the local, regional and statewide levels. The projects were scored by a data-driven process that weighed factors such as safety, congestion and economic competiveness. Those at the statewide level that did not score high enough to be funded also had the opportunity to compete on the regional and division levels.
Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Governor McCrory unveiled a draft of the State Transportation Improvement Program in December. NCDOT held a series of meetings over the past several months for public comment prior to the transportation board’s approval Thursday.
NCDOT updates the state transportation plan every two years to be sure that it accurately reflects North Carolina’s current financial situation. The STI law also mandates ongoing evaluation and improvement to ensure the process continues to be responsive to the state’s diverse needs.
A prioritization work group has already examined the current process and developed recommendations for changes to strengthen the next iteration of the transportation plan. (Learn more about strategic prioritization.)
While the STI law allows NCDOT to make more efficient use of its existing revenue, only 1 in 5 (18 percent) of the 3,100 projects submitted for prioritization in 2014 can be funded over the next 10 years with current revenue resources.
Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for transportation recognizes the need to pursue alternative funding solutions, such as public-private partnerships and bond strategies that will allow the state to take advantage of current low interest rates to deliver vital infrastructure improvements for North Carolina.
Governor McCrory has proposed two bonds of approximately $1.4 billion – one each for roads and public infrastructure.
The North Carolina General Assembly has proposed legislation to help address the department’s need for additional revenue.