- January 26, 2016
LAKEWOOD RANCH — State leaders in transportation landed in Manatee County last week to look at the area’s infrastructure system, in which legislators agreed to invest more than $80 million last year.
The Florida Transportation Commission held a workshop May 5 at Port Manatee and met for its regular meeting May 6, at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
“This is the first time in my 15 years with the Metropolitan Planning Organization they’ve actually (held a meeting here),” said Michael Howe, executive director of the Sarasota Manatee MPO. “This is new territory. It’s very exciting. They saw what’s going on from a transportation standpoint. With that awareness comes opportunity.”
In October, the Florida Department of Transportation allocated $83 million to advance the construction of a diverging diamond interchange at the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway. FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said FDOT will put the project out for bid later this month; construction is slated to start in early August.
But at the meeting, the commission focused primarily on statewide issues, including perceptions of FDOT and its performance, how decreased revenues from the state gas tax will lead to severe transportation funding shortages and possible options for filling that funding gap, including the concept of a mileage-based user fee for roadways.
Mileage-based user fee challenges and benefits
Federal transportation officials have made the message clear: If nothing is done, funding in the Federal Transportation Trust Fund will merely fund obligations made up to 2016. Thereafter, any revenues into the fund will only cover three years out for highways and five years for transit.
Starting in July, Oregon is piloting a road usage charge program, in which the state transportation department assesses a per-mile charge of 1.5 cents per mile to drivers volunteering in the program. The program is meant to establish a funding model where drivers of all types of vehicles pay their fair share for upkeep of the road network. (For information on Oregon’s program, visit myorego.com).
Seventeen states have either performed trials, passed legislation or started to study the idea.
Florida has not made a decision.
FDOT customer survey results
The 2014 FDOT customer survey questioned 3,189 residents, 432 government officials, 2,806 commercial drivers and 404 visitors.
Findings include, but are not limited to:
92% of Florida residents, 95% of commercial drivers and 91% of visitors agreed or strongly agreed that road signs are visible;
41% of Florida residents, 42% of commercial drivers and 65% of government officials agreed or strongly agreed that construction projects on state roads are completed in a timely manner; and
79% of Florida residents, 82% of commercial drivers and 90% of government officials agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with completed FDOT construction projects.