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Funding to Transform

Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, New York

Making transformative change requires vision and commitment, but also funding. We expect that maintaining our transportation system through 2045 will use most of our available funding. But the need for basic maintenance shouldn’t prevent us from pursuing truly transformative projects that remove barriers and expand access.

Transformative Projects

We developed planning-level cost estimates for our recommended transformative projects based on recent funding applications, planning studies, and comparable projects. We applied a range of costs for each project to account for potential changes to the project design, materials costs, and other factors. Based on the estimated timeframe for each, we also developed a cost estimate in Year of Expenditure dollars. For this, we assumed an annual inflation rate of two percent and projected the cost out to the final year of the estimated timeframe.

The estimated cost for our transformative projects totals $93-173 million in current dollars. For the short-term period (2022-2025), we estimate $10-16 million in highway costs and $4 million in transit costs. For the long-term period (2026-2045), we estimate $122-236 million in highway costs and $27 million in transit costs. This equates to $132-252 million in highway costs and $31 million in transit costs over the entire planning period (2022-2045), based on Year of Expenditure dollars.

Implementing these transformative projects will likely require resources outside our estimate of available funding (which did not assume any new funding sources or changes to funding levels). This makes sense—transformative change requires additional support. Given the interest at the federal, state, and local level in addressing issues of equity, resilience, safety, and accessibility, it is reasonable to assume that additional resources will be available in the future. These could include new funding programs, grants, earmarks, and innovative financing models (see sidebar). A portion of our funding for the transformative packages below could also be pooled to support transformative projects.

IDProject NameEstimated Cost (current dollars )Timeframe*Year of Expenditure Cost
AMarket Street Two-way Redesign$3-5Short term$3-5
BArlington Main Street Redesign$6-10Short term$6-11
CTransit Services for the Harlem Valley & Northern Dutchess$1 per yearOngoing31
DRoute 44/55 Arterials Redesign$8-12Medium term$11-16
EHopewell Junction Route 82 Redesign$10-15Medium term$13-20
FBeacon-Hopewell Rail Trail$20-30Medium term$26-40
GRoute 9/44/55 Interchange Redesign$25-50Long term$40-80
HI-84/Route 9D Interchange Improvements$20-50Long term$32-80
Total$93-173$162-283
Shown in $-millions
* Short term (2022-2025); Medium term (2025-2035);
Long term (2035-2045)

Transformative Packages

We also developed planning-level cost estimates for our recommended transformative packages. For the road and bridge maintenance and operations package, we used our estimated road and bridge maintenance cost. The bus service package is based on our estimate of available funding. For the EV charging stations package, we based the cost on a goal of 25 stations per year, using new infrastructure funding. For the Complete Streets corridor studies package, we based the cost on a goal of one study per year, using planning funds. For the other packages, we assigned a percentage of our estimated available highway or transit funds (as appropriate), based on our assessment of needs (including maintenance costs), capacity, and public input from our funding priorities tool.

For the short-term period (2022-2025), we estimate $154 million in highway costs, $44 million in transit costs, $1 million in planning costs, and $1 million in other infrastructure costs. For the long-term period (2026-2045), we estimate $980 million in highway costs, $284 million in transit costs, $4 million in planning costs, and $5 million in other infrastructure costs. This equates to over $1.1 billion in highway costs, $328 million in transit costs, $5 million in planning costs, and $6 million in other infrastructure costs over the entire planning period (2022-2045).

For the short-term period, we purposefully did not use all our estimated available funding. We instead assigned funding to each package based on what we think could feasibly be accomplished. This leaves an estimated excess of about $42 million in highway funds in the short-term period. However, since we assumed that project costs will increase each year, but funding levels will remain flat, the package costs match our estimated available highway funds over the long term.

Over the entire planning period, the combined cost of our transformative projects and packages results in estimated deficits in both highway and transit (bus) funding (see our Fiscal Constraint table). However, this assumes flat funding levels, no new or outside funding, and no funding for transformative projects from the package funds, which we believe is unlikely.

IDPackage NameEstimated Annual Cost (current dollars)Planning Period (2022-2045)*Funding Source
1Road & Bridge Maintenance & Operations$26.4$634Highway
2Safety Improvements at High Crash Locations$3.5$105Highway
3Walking & Bicycling Improvements$3.0$91Highway
4Shared-use Paths & Rail Trails$1.5$46Highway
5Bus Service Improvements$10.3$313Transit
6Train Access Improvements$0.5$15Transit
7Congestion Management & Traffic Operations$2.4$74Highway
8Electric Vehicle Charging Stations1$0.2$6Infrastructure
9Complete Streets Corridor Studies2$0.2$5Planning
10Land Use & Zoning Reform Incentive Program$0.5$14Highway
Total cost$48.4$1,303
Shown in $-millions
* All projects are ongoing
1 Assumes 25 charging stations per year
2 Assumes one planning study per year

 Available FundingProjects1PackagesBalance2
Highway$1,176$132$1,133$(89)
Transit (bus)$247$31$313$(97)
Planning$21n/a$5$16
Total$1,444$163$1,451$(170)

Shown in $-millions

1 Assumes lower cost range

2 We assume that outside federal funding through grants & economic
stimulus programs, as well as federal funds from the region, will support
some Transformative Projects. We also assume some outside funding to support the bus transit Transformative Package, based on past practice.

Innovative Financing

For decades, the traditional sources of funding for transportation have been insufficient to meet our needs. In response, the federal government, states, and others have developed innovative financing tools. The Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Innovative Finance Support outlines several of these, including:

  • Public-private partnerships (where private entities help fund, design, build, operate, and/or maintain projects)
  • Alternative project delivery (cost-saving contracts, such as bulk purchasing and bundled projects)
  • Tolls and user fees (where tolls/fees help repay the construction cost and pay for operations and maintenance). Bridge tolls, impact fees, and congestion pricing (where drivers pay a fee to enter a busy city center during peak times) are examples.
  • Value capture (where a portion of the increase in property value due to a project is used to pay for the improvements). Tax-increment financing is an example.

Other financing tools include:

More flexible funding would also help projects succeed. This could include allowing states to transfer state funds to local projects instead of federal funds, which are more complex to use; bundling projects (such as bridge repairs) into a single contract; leveraging regional funding programs; and relaxing the regulations tied to federal and state funds so that local communities can use more money for projects and less for paperwork.