Oregon's gas tax no longer covers costs of public works projects

Oregon's gas tax no longer covers costs of public works projects

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Oregon residents are driving less, and Oregon Department of Transportation statistice find that those still driving are behind the wheel of fuel-efficient cars.

While it is great for the environment, the loss in gas tax revenue is jeopardizing the funding for roadwork projects across the state.

The budget shortfall has some cities looking for other ways to pave their roads.

More than half of state funded road construction and maintenance has come from taxing gasoline.

By 2020, ODOT officials estimate state funding for road construction will drop to below half of what it was in 2009. 

Springfield Public Works official Brian Conlon said you can already see the impact on city streets.

“In 2007 we rated (our city streets) at about a 77 percent, which is a fair to better condition. Since 2007, the condition, the overall rating of our streets has fallen down to below 50 percent,” said Conlon.

Eugene city official Eric Jones said they’ve increasingly relied on bond measures to fund public works projects.

"The residents of Eugene have told us loud and clear they want us to take care of their streets and they’ve supported us. They supported us when we put this local gas tax into place. They supported us twice with bond measures,” said Jones.

Only about a quarter of the money Eugene uses to repair its roads comes from the gas tax. Springfield relies more heavily on the revenue.

"We've relied on gas tax, the fuel tax, as our primary source of funding,” Conlon said.

In light of decreasing gas tax revenue, both cities are reviewing alternative ways to pay for future projects.

State lawmakers also proposed taxing drivers per mile traveled in order to supplement the revenue shortfall.