By its nature, Idaho's transportation system is constantly moving, changing, evolving. It's not the same system today that it was a generation ago. And it will not be the same tomorrow as it is today.
The Idaho Transportation Department - each of you individually and collectively - plays a critical role in shaping the system of the future, one that provides Idahoans with mobility options, that operates efficiently and safely, protects our lifestyle and promotes our economic prosperity.
We face an intriguing dilemma. Fuel taxes historically have been the primary source of highway construction and maintenance funds. Yet, it is in the best interest of our economy and environment to pursue cleaner, more efficient alternatives to fossil fuels.
As vehicles become more efficient, however, our revenue will decline.
The transportation board recently launched a process called the Forum on Transportation Investment that will merge future transportation demands and opportunities with new and innovative funding opportunities. Their challenge is to identify funding alternatives that will move us from traditional fuel taxes toward new innovative sources. Finding those solutions will be critical to the future of our transportation system.
Creative minds are working to identify other revolutionary options that will re-define how we pay for highway construction and maintenance. For example, Oregon is experimenting with new automobile technology that assesses a highway user fee based on miles traveled rather than fuel consumed. High-tech gas pumps collect mileage information electronically from the vehicle and assess the fee accordingly.
And nearly a dozen states are using federal GARVEE (grant anticipated revenue) bonds to accelerate construction projects by leveraging funds from the federal trust fund.
The Forum on Transportation Investment and its 65 members will take a broad look at Idaho's transportation funding, expectations for the future, and meeting those demands. It is engaging a highly talented group of people statewide, chaired by former state Rep. Jim Kempton, and asks them to:
The Forum on Transportation Investment will help prepare
us for the mobility challenges of tomorrow. These are indeed exciting