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March 11
How to Use the Road Ahead Transportation Interactive

road ahead interactive screenshot.png

NACo recently released The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing, a study assessing the role of counties in transportation (roads and bridges), funding challenges and solutions to their transportation systems.  Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the federal surface transportation funding legislation expires at the end of September 2014, with federal discussions surrounding reauthorization already started.  This study and the companion products will help NACo guide discussions regarding federal transportation legislation.

Together with the study, NACo research team released the Road Ahead web-based map interactive featuring state level maps showcasing state and county transportation statistics.  The web map provides access also to individual state profiles for the 43 states in which counties play a role in roads and bridges.  To access the report, web interactive and state profiles, go to www.uscounties.org/county-transportation-funding/

The interactive showcases eight indicators listed in the top menu.  Once the user clicks on the top level indicator, the interactive displays the respective state level data across the map.   The user can access the definition for each indicator by hovering over each indicator tab.  Additionally, the user can hover over any state to see a number of data for that state.

Counties are creatures of the state, deriving their powers and authorities from state statute.  The report and interactive highlight several limitations states impose on counties’ ability to raise revenues through property taxes, local gas taxes and local option sales taxes.  Counties in 43 states are subject to some form of property tax limitations imposed by the state, including caps on property tax rates and limits on assessment increases.  Assessment limits, which control counties’ ability to raise revenue through reassessing property values, are especially binding when coupled with a cap on property tax rates.  Counties in 16 states are subject to this binding combination of state imposed property tax limitations as depicted in the “state limits on property tax” map in the interactive.

The interactive features individual state profiles – accessible by clicking the desired state in any map view.  They provide more in-depth analysis of the role of counties play in transportation funding and financing in each state.  For each state, the profiles outline county authority over roads and bridges and transportation revenue streams to counties from the state and from the federal governments.  Wherever the data was available, the profile provides also the revenue sources distribution for county transportation from state, federal and own county sources.  The profiles also offer information on state limitations on county property taxes, even that some counties do not use county property tax revenue for transportation.  Based on authority granted by the state, the profiles also outline which of their own revenue sources counties use to supplement federal and state funding.  Each profile details specific barriers counties face in funding transportation projects.  The profiles also highlights specific programs, solutions or recent measures taken by counties(or measures taken by state that would help counties) to overcome transportation funding challenges and shortfalls.

As discussions surrounding reauthorization of federal surface transportation funding legislation begin, The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing and its accompanying web interactive will help NACo members, NACo, state county associations and NACo affiliates to educate policymakers on the role of counties in transportation and highlight the challenges that counties face in funding one of the largest portions of the U.S. transportation system.​ 

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