About Transportation Financing

Financing for maintenance, improvements and new construction of transportation assets is an ongoing and universal challenge for transportation agencies and authorities. The Eastern Transportation Coalition, by request of its member agencies, monitors, studies and reports on issues and opportunities in transportation funding. The Coalition relays lessons learned and study recommendations on topics such as sponsorship; public-private partnerships; mileage-based revenue systems; tolling; managed lanes; and other innovative strategies.

As transportation agencies evaluate various programs to cover the cost of infrastructure repair and replacement, consideration is being given to a system where travelers pay per mile for use of roadways. The Coalition conducted research and developed a concept of operations on the administrative requirements for a mileage-based user fee system in a multi-state environment. The initial phase of the Eastern Transportation Coalition’s research assessed the implications of administering a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) system in a multi-state environment. The study looked beyond infrastructure and vehicle technologies to examine administrative aspects (what administrative functions would need to accomplished and how they might be accomplished), institutional aspects (how agencies would be affected and how a multi-state system might be managed and governed), legal and legislative issues that would need to be considered, and what the system would cost. Research was conducted through extensive interviews and review of available information.

Phase II of the Coalition’s research was conducted as a case study involving the three neighboring states of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. A concept of operations for a long range vision was developed that describes the functions that would need to be accomplished by a multi-state MBUF system that encompasses all miles traveled by all vehicles by state and jurisdiction as well as tolls and congestion-based charges. The research also explored issues that would have to be considered in the transition from the current fuel tax based revenue collection to implementation of this potential future concept of operations, including staging of the transition, the functionality of early stage systems; participation in early stage systems, including vehicle types and the potential for opt-in alternatives; collection and payment enforcement methods, both within individual states and across state lines; strategies for operating under a dual fuel tax/MBUF system during transition, and procedures for properly allocating revenues based on where miles were actually driven. The research also produced a further analysis of cost, examining it from the perspective of the estimated costs associated with the collection of MBUFs compared to the current costs for collecting not only fuel taxes, but also tolls and registration fees.

Phase 2: Concept of Operations for the Administration of Mileage-Based User Fees in a Multi-state Environment (Full Report)
Phase 1: Administrative and Legal Issues Associated with a Multi-State VMT-Based Charge System (Executive Summary and Full Report)

  • Transportation agencies are seeking and securing private industry sponsors to help defray the costs of infrastructure construction and maintenance. This photo, courtesy of Virginia DOT, of a sign with a sponsor – is being installed to announce an upcoming safe phone zone and welcome center.

  • Electronic Tolling, such as this open road tolling facility, increases the efficiency of fee collection. Those fees are typically designated for road maintenance and operations.

  • Managed lanes provide options for travelers and a traffic control mechanism for transportation agencies. These managed lanes are designed to move traffic efficiently in the Northern VA area on and nearing the beltway surrounding Washington DC. (Photo: Virginia DOT.)