NCDOT board approves criteria for new transportation funding formula
by Anna Oakes
The implementation of a new funding formula for North Carolina transportation projects moves forward with the N.C. Department of Transportation's recent approval of project scoring criteria.
The General Assembly in June approved legislation establishing the new Strategic Mobility Formula, which establishes a tiered approach to funding transportation improvements.
Under the formula, state-level projects receive 40 percent of available funding ($6 billion), regional-level projects receive 30 percent of available funding ($4.5 billion) and the division level receives 30 percent of available funding ($4.5 billion) during the next 10 years.
The new formula is scheduled to be fully implemented by July 1, 2015, according to NCDOT. Projects funded for construction before then will proceed as scheduled, and projects slated after that time will be ranked and programmed according to the new formula.
Jerry Higgins, communications officer for NCDOT, said the Strategic Mobility Formula does not replace the current State Transportation Improvement Program process for prioritizing projects. Instead, projects will be ranked in the STIP based on their scores developed from the new Strategic Mobility Formula criteria.
"Some (projects), if they meet the criteria, could move up; some could move back (in the STIP list)," Higgins said.
The Board of Transportation developed scoring criteria not only for highway projects, but also for aviation, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, ferry, public transportation and rail project scoring. Criteria for each mode of transportation can be found at http://www.ncdot.gov/download/about/board/bot/documents/Prioritization.pdf.
The criteria will be presented to the General Assembly's Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee for approval.
The High Country Council of Governments, based in Boone, is the Rural Planning Organization that submits transportation projects for funding consideration on behalf of Watauga, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Wilkes and Yancey counties.
The Strategic Mobility Formula replaces the state's Equity Formula, which was implemented in 1989 and "did not provide sufficient flexibility to meet North Carolina's current needs," NCDOT said in a statement.
NCDOT said the previous 10-year plan included 175 projects and created 174,000 jobs. "The new formula will fund at least 260 projects and create more than 240,000 jobs over the next 10 years," it said.
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