If the future of cars is electric, what does that mean for transportation funding?

The adoption of electric vehicles is growing in the United States, with all-electric vehicle sales increasing by 85% from 2020 to 2021 and plug-in hybrid sales rising 138%. This is a welcome trend for many, but the increased popularity of EVs combined with better fuel efficiency, and a gas tax that hasn’t been raised in thirty years, is posing a major challenge to policy makers; how to make up for lost gas tax revenue, which currently pays for 29% of state highway funds and 84% at the federal level.

Partially automated vehicles increase VMT

Numerous studies have raised concerns that self-driving cars could flood our roads with more traffic, as commuters travel longer distances and cars drive themselves in and out of central cities to avoid parking. Fully autonomous vehicles are probably a ways off, giving policymakers time to grapple with the potential impacts, but new research suggests that even common features found in cars today like adaptive cruise control and lane guidance lead to increased vehicle miles traveled.

States can target key transportation issues with federal infrastructure funds

The much-anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was finally signed by President Biden on Monday, and state DOTs are preparing for what will amount to around 50 percent more transportation spending than originally planned for over the next five years. The act includes an additional $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for safety, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for freight and passenger rail (a five-fold increase).

Renewable Energy in the Right of Way

At SSTI’s first Sustainability Directors Community of Practice meeting in June 2015, attendees discussed their states’ interest in siting solar and other renewable energy generation facilities in the highway right-of-way but cited uncertainty regarding FHWA rules and unfamiliarity with the business side of renewable energy production as major hurdles. In an effort to support these efforts and allow interested states to learn from others, SSTI has gathered the technical documents gathered here, under the headings below, comprise a living repository for state DOTs and others to use as examples as they develop their own ROW renewable energy projects.

Building Resilient States: A Framework for Agencies (Smart Growth America and Governors’ Institute on Community Design, 2015)

Where and how communities grow and build homes, transportation, and other infrastructure is likely not at the forefront of most disaster preparedness agencies’ agenda. Yet a community’s decisions about land use and transportation have significant impacts on how resilient it can be in the face of disasters. This document is intended to introduce and integrate land use and transportation issues into states’ conversations about resilience. Disaster preparedness professionals can use it to understand how strategic decisions about land use and transportation can build communities that are more resilient from the ground up.

Advancing a Sustainable Highway System: Highlights of FHWA Sustainability Activities (FHWA and Volpe Center, 2014)

This report from FHWA illustrates how sustainability has been incorporated into a wide variety of FHWA programs, projects, policies, processes, and partnerships. It is intended to be used by a diverse audience of transportation agency professionals at the Federal, State, and local level as well as the general public.