- The Utah Transportation Commission voted Friday to use an unanticipated $1 billion disbursement from state lawmakers to launch several infrastructure initiatives, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
- The projects range from a controversial $610 million highway that has yet to receive federal approval to a $46 million intersection conversion. There are at least five projects in the $100 million–$500 million range and three that are less than $65 million, with many aimed at easing congestion in high-growth areas.
- The state legislature will borrow the $1 billion over a four-year period. The boon for the commission will allow the projects to be completed according to a much faster timetable.
Utah is the fastest-growing state in the nation, with its population increasing 2% between 2015 and 2016. The state's business-friendly environment, access to outdoor activities and relatively low cost of living has attracted a stream of new residents. That growth, however, can put a strain on existing infrastructure. This $1 billion funding infusion will, ideally, help to ease that strain.
Across the U.S., states are ramping up transportation construction plans in an effort to meet the needs of residents. California, for example, launched one of the biggest infrastructure initiatives, a $52 billion plan to upgrade and repair the state's roads, highways and other public assets. The work will be funded by an increase in the gas tax, as well as higher vehicle registration fees.
While debates continue in Washington, DC, over the president's infrastructure plans, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, R-OR, has introduced a bill that would increase the Highway Trust Fund gas tax by 1 cent per year. The extra revenue would provide an additional $17 billion for highway projects across the country.
In its latest report, the American Society of Civil Engineers found that the total of necessary U.S. infrastructure repairs and improvements would cost taxpayers $4.6 trillion by 2025, which is an increase of $1 trillion since the ASCE's last report.