Transportation

The election of Donald J. Trump in November left some state transportation advocates scratching their heads about the role states and localities will need to play in the years ahead to ensure that progress on transportation continues, that priorities are maintained and that future investments reflect those priorities.

While the number of states exploring transportation funding options in 2016 was down from 2015’s record pace, 2017 could see significant activity. Several states had special task forces in place in 2016 to discuss funding options, while others have targeted 2017 as the year for action or are completing unfinished business from years past. During this annual CSG eCademy webinar, we’ll hear from transportation experts and statehouse and transportation beat reporters about what could lie ahead in 2017 legislative sessions around the country.

People with disabilities are a major contributing group to the workforce. However, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities is about twice as much as the unemployment rate of the general population. This high rate of unemployment could be reduced by taking the proper steps to provide workers with disabilities the appropriate accommodations to allow them to be successful in the workplace. These accommodations include access to transportation, assistive workplace technologies and other employment supports.

Issue: States are seeking to change how transportation projects are selected by making project selection less political, determining which ones could have the best return on investment, factoring in long-term costs and reconsidering some long-planned projects that may no longer make sense in the modern age. Increasingly facing limited resources, they likely will need to do more of that in the future.

Issue: After years of saying they were still years away, autonomous vehicles and other technologies are here—or nearly here (at least to some degree). Uber has a fleet of autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh. Uber’s self-driving truck company, Otto, recently delivered a truck full of beer in Colorado. So now the question becomes how will state governments respond and how will they need to respond? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued guidelines last summer for states to consider in drafting autonomous vehicle legislation. But in trying to encourage the development of these technologies and perhaps reap an economic windfall, states will need to guard against doing more harm than good through legislation and regulation.

Issue: During the campaign, Donald Trump called for a $1 trillion package to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. But the devil likely will be in the details for both Republicans and Democrats when it comes to funding the plan and deciding what to fund. Beyond any one-time infrastructure investment in 2017 though, will Congress be able to hit the ground running so they can be ready when it comes time to reauthorize the FAST Act transportation authorization bill in 2020?

Issue: The 2016 election saw the passage of ballot measures to enable new transit investments in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle. But in Washington, D.C. and other cities, years of neglect of transit systems are burdening public officials with funding, safety and service challenges. Meanwhile, ride-hailing services are continuing to evolve to fill increasingly essential roles. As governments look to provide and enable all these mobility options, how do they ensure that successful communities are built around transit, that housing remains affordable and that those communities work for all their residents?

Issue: State transportation funding efforts could be back in the spotlight in 2017. The list of those that could tackle transportation revenues includes as many as 16 states. Some have been at this for several years and haven’t achieved success due to political challenges. Some have had a task force or special commission in place in 2016 to come up with funding ideas. Plenty of old ideas (gas taxes, registration fees, tolls) are likely to be considered. But mileage-based user fees and other innovations are likely to get a look as well.

CSG Midwest
Design and construction of a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., could begin in just over a year. In November, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority...

With this statement of principles, The Council of State Governments (CSG) calls on Congress to seek solutions to the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund prior to the expiration of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2020. CSG also expresses support for the efforts of states in their traditional role as the laboratories of democracy to experiment with transportation funding mechanisms. And CSG expresses its opposition to any federal legislation or executive action that would eliminate the federal tax exemption on municipal bonds.

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