Voters across the U.S. that took part in an off-year election on Nov. 5 approved a handful of measures aimed at raising millions of dollars in government money for freight and mobility infrastructure.
Maine residents approved a $105 million bond issue, to be matched with $137 million in federal and other funds, to build or improve roads, bridges, railroads, airports and ports. The largest portion of the bond money, $85 million, is to be allocated to state highways and bridge rehabilitation.
A $3.5 billion bond issue in Houston was approved to initiate the city’s “Metro Next” transportation plan. The bond will help pay for 500 miles of improvements in various projects over the next 20 years, including 290 miles of transit route enhancements. The remaining $7.5 billion needed for the plan is expected to come from matching federal grants and future revenue, according to the city.
The city of San Francisco narrowly approved a measure that will impose a business tax on rides with Uber [NYSE: UBER], Lyft [NASDAQ: LYFT] and other ride-sharing companies. According to language in the ballot initiative, the city shall “impose a 1.5% business tax on shared rides and a 3.25% business tax on private rides for fares charged by commercial ride-share and driverless-vehicle companies until Nov. 5, 2045, raising an estimated $30-35 million annually.”
While potentially making ride-sharing companies less competitive with other transportation options, Uber and Lyft supported the tax after negotiating with the city because it was “less onerous” than a previous proposal, according to reports. Critics contended that while the measure was billed as a “traffic congestion mitigation tax,” it was unlikely to reduce the number of ride-sharing cars.
Some transportation funding proposals didn’t make the cut. Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have allowed that state to use unused tax revenue to fund roads, bridges and transit. However, voters in Denver, the state’s capital city, approved a measure to amend the city’s charter to create a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, shifting the city’s transportation functions from the public works department.
“By reorganizing ourselves to reflect transportation as one of our highest priorities and an essential city service, we can expedite mobility projects, sharpen our focus on next-generation, innovative solutions and ensure social equity is infused in all of our transportation-improvement efforts,” according to supporters.
In Washington state, voters passed a measure that will limit licensing fees for vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds to $30 and will eliminate certain motor vehicle weight fees.