Policy

Transportation, infrastructure win big in midterms

Voters across the country greenlit state and local ballot measures that could generate nearly $20 billion in revenue for transportation investments, according to tracking by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
Motorists slow as traffic backs up in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Voters across the country greenlit state and local ballot measures that could generate nearly $20 billion in revenue for transportation investments, according to tracking by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Of the 380 such ballot initiatives in 18 states on Tuesday, 88% are on track for approval, with the results of nearly two dozen measures still pending. That is a slightly higher than average historical passage rate for these types of measures.

“A key takeaway from the results is that voters remain committed to investing their tax dollars in better streets, roads, bridges, and transit systems even in the face of record inflation and high gasoline prices that are straining household budgets,” said Carolyn Kramer Simons, director of ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center.

Texas led the country with voters approving 114 measures worth almost $13 billion. The bulk of that money is for Municipal Utility Districts to invest in roads and infrastructure in newer communities and developments. But it also includes $1.5 billion that will go to cities, towns and counties for transportation upgrades.

In Colorado’s El Paso County, voters overwhelmingly renewed a one-cent sales tax to pump another $1 billion over 10 years into the Colorado Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

And voters in San Francisco were saying “yes” to a 0.5% sales tax that will provide as much as $236 million a year over 30 years. Separate measures in Fresno County and Sacramento failed.

Ohio voters approved 94% of that state’s 122 local infrastructure ballot measures.

In Massachusetts voters narrowly approved Question 1, a constitutional amendment to establish a 4% tax on income above $1 million to fund both education and transportation.

More than 80% of the measures will fund highway, street and bridge projects and maintenance, according to ARTBA’s tracking.

Separately, voters in states including Alabama, New Mexico, Nebraska and New York approved ballot measures related to broader infrastructure needs, including investments in airports, broadband and climate change mitigation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In some cases, the money could help states leverage federal dollars to address decades of backlogged infrastructure needs.

“The states are using this opportunity with that federal funding to try to bring that backlog a little bit forward,” NCSL’s Amanda Zoch said.

But voters didn’t like everything transportation- and infrastructure-related they saw on their ballots. In California, they shot down Proposition 30, which would have taxed income over $2 million to fund, among other things, a buildout of electric vehicle infrastructure.

Stephanie Akin contributed to this report