Infrastructure Bill Released
H.B.433 (Amendments Related to Infrastructure Funding) (Rep. Mike Schultz)
With a mere seven legislative days left (so few and yet so many), the long-awaited infrastructure funding bill HB433 is out. The bill authorizes nearly $2.3 billion in investments in state roads, public transportation, active transportation, and outdoor recreation, through a combination of the authorization of new bonding and the appropriation of available one-time revenues (see below for a reminder about the recently released updated consensus revenue estimates).
As we reported to you before the legislative session began, the Governor and Legislature have been expected to authorize additional investments in infrastructure because of the historically low interest rates, a desire to support strong economic performance, and an ongoing need for transportation projects to accommodate growth.
In January, WFRC and Utah’s other MPOs, along with ULCT and UAC, developed a letter of support and principles for infrastructure investment (a similar letter was also submitted to Governor Cox and Lieutenant Governor Henderson):
1. Invest in infrastructure.
HB433 authorizes investment of almost $2.3B in Utah’s infrastructure.
2. Support multi-modal transportation choices.
HB433 invests in state roads, makes an unprecedented investment of state funding in transit, and invests in active transportation. The investment in active transportation is consistent with this letter that was signed by 400 public, private, and community stakeholders across Utah urging the Governor and Legislature to invest in constructing high-priority, regionally important “active transportation” (i.e., biking and walking) projects throughout the State.
3. Utilize the professional planning and prioritization process.
4. Be fiscally prudent - balance current infrastructure investment needs with long-term fiscal stability.
HB433 uses a mix of one-time cash (general fund appropriations) and bonding against future transportation revenues. The key question of whether the State should authorize bonding, and if so how much, is still under discussion.
It’s important to recognize that this may not be the final bill. Discussions continue between the House and Senate.
Summary of HB433
From one-time general funds, appropriates the following:
- $863M total
- $621M for the costs of right-of-way acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or renovation of or improvement to the following state highway projects (note that funding is not specified project-by-project; rather the total amount is appropriated to UDOT, who will administer the funding):
- The connector road between Main Street and 1600 North in the city of Vineyard
- Geneva Road from University Parkway to 1800 South in Utah County
- The SR-97 interchange at 5600 South on I-15 in Weber County
- Two lanes on U-111 from Herriman Parkway to 11800 South in Salt Lake County
- Widening I-15 between mileposts 10 and 13 and the interchange at milepost 11 in Washington City
- Improvements to 1600 North in Orem from 1200 West to State Street
- Widening I-15 between mileposts 6 and 8 in St. George
- Widening 1600 South from Main Street in the city of Spanish Fork to SR-51
- Widening US 6 from Sheep Creek to Mill Fork between mileposts 195 and 197 in Spanish Fork Canyon
- I-15 northbound between mileposts 43 and 56, south of Cedar City, near Kanarraville
- A passing lane on SR-132 between mileposts 41.1 and 43.7 between mileposts 43 and 45.1 between Nephi and Fountain Green
- East Zion SR-9 improvements
- Toquerville Parkway in Washington County
- An environmental study on Foothill Boulevard in the city of Saratoga Springs in Utah County
- $32.5M for active transportation “paved pedestrian or paved nonmotorized transportation projects.” The bill does not specific projects, so these will be prioritized by the State Transportation Commission, based on projects in Utah's Unified Transportation Plan. The bill reduces the required local match for these projects from 40% to 20% of the costs needed for construction, reconstruction, or renovation; this will help local communities participate in advancing these projects.
- $107.5M for state parks / recreation:
- $36M to the Department of Natural Resources for new Utah Raptor and Lost Creek state parks
- $67M to the Department of Natural Resources for enhancements to existing state parks
- $4M to the Governor's Office of Economic Development for outdoor recreation grants.
- Transit projects:
- $100M to pay to double track strategic sections of the FrontRunner commuter rail system. In combination with bond funding authorized (see below), this will allow for enhanced speed, frequency, capacity, and reliability of FrontRunner service.
- $1.6M to pay for a rail station in the city of Vineyard.
Authorizes additional bonding for transportation:
- $1.4B total.
$1.15B for state highway capacity projects. Bonded against future Transportation Investment Fund (TIF) revenues. Projects will be selected through the State Transportation Commission prioritization process, which automatically considers projects that are included in phase one of Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan. The bill does not specify the timing of bond issuance; rather it directs that “the amount and pacing of bond issuance support a consistent level of construction expenditures to avoid fluctuations in construction expenditures over time.” The Commission may prioritize projects beyond the normal programming time horizon of 4-6 years.
- $220M for public transit projects, bonded against future Transit Transportation Investment Fund (TTIF) revenues:
- $200M to double track strategic sections of the FrontRunner commuter rail system. UTA will pay $5M per year towards debt service costs, for 15 years.
- $11M for bus rapid transit (BRT) in the Salt Lake midvalley area.
- $5M for an environmental study at the point of the mountain area.
- $4M for a Utah Transit Authority and Sharp-Tintic railroad consolidation project in Utah County.
- $30M for UDOT to pass through to Brigham City to be used for a Forest Street rail bridge project, paid from an existing locomotive fuel sales tax from the Rail Transportation Restricted Account.
Updated Consensus Revenue Estimates
A few days ago, the Governor's Office and the Legislature released updated “consensus” revenue estimates for state fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The revenue estimates show the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19. The new consensus revenue estimates identify $315 million in additional one-time money and $112 million in additional ongoing money. Policymakers have about $1.3 billion one-time and $205 million ongoing to allocate during the 2021 General Session. Currently, appropriations requests total nearly $2 billion one-time and $400 million ongoing.
Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones (HTRZ)
SB217 (Harper) Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone (HTRZ) Act passed the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously yesterday. Here is a short summary of the bill. The HTRZ is intended to get "all hands on deck" to help Utah tackle its housing crisis by facilitating mixed-use and multifamily housing development in the key areas around FrontRunner stations, capitalizing on the anticipated State investment to improve FrontRunner. Senator Harper noted that there are still some details to be worked out and we anticipate the bill being revised before it is voted on by the full Senate.
Andrew S. Gruber