The NC FIRST Commission was created to research and advise the North Carolina secretary of transportation about potential ways of developing a “sustainable long-range transportation investment strategy.” The commission’s final report and findings were released on January 8, 2021. (FIRST stands for “Future Investment Resources for Sustainable Transportation.”)
From the report’s executive summary:
The NC FIRST Commission was formed to advise the Secretary of Transportation in the formation of a sustainable long-range transportation investment strategy. Both the recommendations and the associated funding and financing options included in this report are the result of extensive research and analysis conducted over an 18-month period. During the investigative phase, the Commission defined investment goals that will both replace revenue losses and enhance investment levels to ensure North Carolina remains competitive and attractive from an economic, quality of life, and safety perspective.
Currently, North Carolina’s annual transportation investment level will equal an estimated $50 billion over the next decade (roughly $5 billion annually). The Commission’s consensus recommendation is to increase the total investment level over the next decade by at least an additional $20 billion.
For North Carolina to reach this level of investment, new investment strategies must be implemented to both offset declining gas tax revenue and provide for the additional investment levels recommended. The Commission has identified a menu of potential options that could be utilized to reach this goal. Implementation of multiple investment strategies will allow North Carolina to modernize and increase total transportation investments, create a safer and more resilient transportation network, better connect rural areas, and support technological advancements. This will ensure the state’s continued economic vitality and quality of life as well as future competitiveness.