Gas tax might fund specific transportation needs
Miami-Dade’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) might consider taking a page from Orlando’s book to secure funding for specific transportation needs.
MetroPlan Orlando, that area’s transportation planning organization, has come to an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to use up to 30% of its District Dedicated Revenue funds for four years to kick-start mass transit projects, said Aileen Bouclé, MPO executive director, speaking at the Aug. 25 meeting of the MPO’s Fiscal Priorities Committee.
District Dedicated Revenue funds are derived from gasoline taxes charged by the state and are generally returned to the county from which they were collected to be used for transportation purposes, according to the state transportation department’s website.
The funds are usually not available to metropolitan planning organizations, Ms. Bouclé told committee members, because MPOs are set up to deal with federal funding. But capturing the state funds would help pay for operations and maintenance for transit projects, which is generally the most difficult part of the start-up effort, she said.
“On the federal side, there is limited funding for maintenance and operations; that will have to be locally funded,” she explained. “What’s innovative about this is that they’ve agreed to use this category of funding that has not been used before, and that they have a scaled schedule starting in 2021.” The plan starts by using more of the state funds initially and winds that funding source down to zero by the end of the program, she said.
If the funds could be secured for Miami-Dade, the money could only be used on Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit corridors that correspond to state roads, she said. That would include at least two – the East-West and Northeast – but possibly more, of the six corridors the MPO has identified for transit improvements.
“If this is something the board wishes to explore, we can initiate negotiations with the state,” Ms. Bouclé said. “We have a much more aggressive schedule than Orlando; our needs are distinct.”
The committee unanimously agreed to pursue the funding, but also will refer the matter to the full MPO board for discussion.