Idaho’s underfunded transportation network got a much-needed infusion of cash from the Legislature last year. Nothing like that is coming this year, but state Transportation Director Brian Ness is not one to complain.
Transportation got a $96.7 million boost last year — a start on what officials say is $262 million a year needed for the state’s network of roads and bridges to prevent things from getting worse.
With the extra funding, “We’ve slowed the rate of deterioration, but there’s still some deterioration of our road and bridge system,” Ness told reporters Thursday after he presented the department’s budget proposal to legislative budget writers.
ITD’s proposed spending of just under $650 million for the fiscal year that starts in July is actually a 31 percent increase from last year, reflecting the increased funding from the state last year as well as an increase in federal funding. Just over half the department’s budget comes from federal sources.
30.8 percentIncrease in state transportation budget this year over last, to $649.6 million. Most is for road and bridge maintenance.
Roughly half the state money added last year came from an increase in user fees — vehicle registrations and the gas tax, which increased 7 cents to 32 cents a gallon. With that money, the department undertook an additional 27 road and bridge projects statewide, some of which are already completed. You can get the list and project status at this story at IdahoStatesman.com.
Another chunk of funding approved last year will come from the state surplus. The Transportation board in December approved 17 additional projects, some of which can start as soon as the surplus is confirmed and spending authority granted by lawmakers. That list and more on how surplus and user fees are funding the work are at IdahoStatesman.com.
While the additional money from user fees continues, the use of general fund surplus for roads and bridges will end next year without renewal or other action by lawmakers.
For this year, said Ness, “We’re not asking for additional money than what we received last year.”
And for the future? “We will continue to talk about what the need is and let the Legislature decide on how that stacks up against all the other needs they have.”