68 Percent of Transportation Ballot Measures Passed

November 6 2012 was a good day for transportation. We’ve tried to identify all the major transportation-related, funding-related ballot measures whether it was a state, local, transit- or road-oriented or both. Please let us know if we’re missing one.

Another election day, another collection of resounding victories for transportation ballot measures.  One national group (ARTBA) reports that 68% of the measures to increase or extend funding for highways, bridges and transit passed.

The successes came at the state and local levels, and for roads, transit or both. Many of the measures increased, extended or renewed a property or gas tax. Three of the four statewide measures to raise additional transportation funds passed with an average approval rate of 63 percent.

And 2012 was not an anomaly -the high success rate for transportation ballot measures is becoming the norm:  61% (2010), 78% (2008), 77% (2006) and 76% (2004). It begs the question of why it is so difficult to pass a federal transportation bill, when those proposals aren’t even raising taxes and fees. The success rate may also indicate that more states, regions and local governments are taking funding issues into their own hands and recognizing the decline in federal funds.


  • Alaska: $454.5 million general obligation bond issue  for transportation projects
  • Arkansas:  half-cent sales tax increase expected to raise more than $1.8 billion for state and local transportation projects
  • Arlington County (VA): bonding for transit
  • Conelius (OR): extension of local gas tax for road improvements.
  • El Paso County (CO): sales tax increase to benefit rural transit capital projects
  • Harris County (TX): Continue diversion of portion of sales tax for transportation, & prohibits light rail funding
  • Kalamazoo (MI): property tax increase for transit
  • Louisiana: extension of tolls on a bridge for 20 years
  • Maine: $51.5 million transportation bond issue
  • Michigan: defeat of proposal means new Detroit-Canada bridge can advance
  • Napa County (CA): half cent, 25-year sales tax for streets and sidewalks
  • Orange County (NC): half cent sales tax for regional transportation
  • Philadelphia: borrowing $123 million for capital improvements to transit, streets and sanitation, municipal buildings, parks and recreation, museums and economic/community development.
  • Richland County (SC): one cent sales tax will provide $50 million annually for 22 years  for roads and transit
  • Stephenson County (IL): advisory vote to establish a regional transit system
  • Virginia Beach (VA): non-binding referendum allowing extension of light rail


  • Alachua County (FL): ¾ cent sales tax, 15-years, for transportation
  • Alameda County (SF Bay area): half-cent sales tax for transit and light rail extension (Note: at 65.54% failed to reach the 66.7% needed to pass)
  • Arizona: renewal of  half-cent sales tax providing funds to schools, transportation projects and human services
  • Clark County (WA): .1 sales tax increase to fund operations of new light rail line
  • Los Angeles County:  30-year extension of a half-cent sales tax to accelerate transit and road projects (Note: at 64.64% failed to reach the 66.7% needed to pass)
  • Memphis (TN): one cent per gallon gas tax increase for transit operations
  • Pierce County (WA): 0.3 sales tax increase for transit operations (failing with 10% of ballots left to count)

The Overhead Wire

Center for Transportation Excellence

AASHTO Journal