Leveraging Federal Dollars and Meeting Local Needs

The Montana Department of Transportation has an annual budget of over $710 million.  Over $390 million of that money comes from the Federal government by way of grants through the Federal Highway Administration.  The monies from the Feds are doled out on a project-by-project basis with the State of Montana responsible for approximately 13 percent of the project cost, and the Feds picking up 87 percent of the cost.

Under current projections, the Montana Department of Transportation is expected to fall $27 million short of budget projections, putting many projects and the federal highway matching dollars at risk.

Since the first quarter of this year, MDT has been suggesting that lower-priority projects on secondary highways would be cut, while projects on the Interstate and Primary systems would remain largely unaffected.  (Daily Inter Lake, Mar. 2, 2016)

The Montana Infrastructure Coalition believes that safe and efficient roads and bridges are fundamental elements of a healthy community and a robust economy.  Leveraging the full amount of federal highway dollars available should be a top priority for every legislature.  However, even if the federal match can be made in 2017, the question lingers on what other secondary or local roadway project needs will remain unaddressed.

An average of over 200 drivers are killed on Montana’s highways each year.  Montana’s traffic fatality rate is third highest in the nation, with fatality rates on non-Interstate rural roads standing at more than two-and-a-half times the rate on all other roads and highways in the state.  Yet simple safety improvements – like adding turn lanes, removing or shielding obstacles, adding or improving medians, widening lanes, widening and paving shoulders, improving intersection layout, and providing better road markings and upgrading or installing traffic signals – may be the first projects to be delayed under budget shortfalls.

Funding for such basic safety improvements shouldn’t be an afterthought, and need not be subjected to political negotiations at the end of each legislative session.  It is essential that Montana fully leverage the federal monies available, but we cannot ignore the critical safety needs on local roadways.  With better planning, we don’t have to choose which comes first – we can do both.

Please join the Montana Infrastructure Coalition in expressing our support for a more thoughtful and sustainable approach to local road and bridge funding, and to consistently leveraging federal highway dollars to maintain our state and federal highways across Montana.

The Coalition met with Butte Officials

Infrastructure Coalition presented the coalition’s goals to Butte officials Monday July 11 that illustrated the need to direct more money to local roads, sewers and other public infrastructure in Montana.

If you didn’t know, the Montana Infrastructure Coalition began this spring of 2016, after a $150 million bill funding infrastructure and building projects across the state died in the Montana Legislature.

Tim Burton, executive director of the Montana League of Cities and Towns, said the new group was nonpartisan, had raised $100,000 already rather easily and 50 organizations already had joined. He said there was interest in Butte and other cities and towns to get on board.

  • The 2017 legislative session won’t start until January, but the Coalition will initiate its mission early.
  • Key points of the presentation include:
  • The Coalition is not a political organization, it is a research and education organization
  • The Coalition is a long-term enterprise
  • Identify adequately fund for the most pressing local needs for roads, bridges, sewers, water and other infrastructure
  • All but three of Montana’s 129 incorporated cities and towns belong to the Coalition
  • The bill that failed in 2015 would have provided at least $150 million in cash and bonding authority for local government infrastructure and state long-range building projects
  • The bill would also arrange a state loan up to $10 million to help pay for construction of a long-sought veterans home in Butte
  • Give cities with more weight more priority in getting state dollars
  • Examine all ways of funding local infrastructure projects and decide which ones to pursue in 2017 and beyond
  • Suggest the establishment of a committee on local government funding that would meet between sessions to keep issues in the spotlight
  • Get people advocated for local public infrastructure funding on the same page
  • Develop ground up support for infrastructure needs

Read the Montana Standard Article by Mike Smith

Montana Infrastructure Coalition Lays Groundwork for Future

FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE: Montana Infrastructure Coalition Lays Groundwork for Future

In conjunction with national Infrastructure Week, the Montana Infrastructure Coalition created a Research and Policy Committee to analyze the most effective funding methods for future infrastructure investment. All options will be on the table to develop a consensus funding package in the next legislative session and beyond.

The Infrastructure Coalition, a non-partisan group of over 50 members representing design professionals, labor, trade associations, construction contractors, and local governments will study comprehensive infrastructure needs and funding mechanisms this summer. The immediate aim is to submit proposals for improvements to Montana’s infrastructure funding system in time for the 2017 Legislative session.

Infrastructure Week outlines a national schedule of events; media coverage; and education and advocacy efforts to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans. Policy discussions, legislative briefings, presentations, ribbon cuttings and field tours are being conducted across the country to highlight the desperate need for investment in public infrastructure.

The Montana Infrastructure Coalition is using Infrastructure Week to spur constructive dialogue in Montana. Coalition Chair, Webb Brown, said, “The message of Infrastructure Week is simply to remind policy makers and the public that infrastructure matters to our communities, our state, our safety, our quality of life, and our economy.” Good roads, bridges, highways, water, sewer, and other essential community infrastructure matters to the goods we ship and the companies that make and sell them; it matters to our daily commutes and our summer vacations, to drinking water from our faucets, to the lights in our homes, and ultimately to every aspect of our daily lives.

Every year we fail to adequately invest in our infrastructure, Montana becomes less competitive, our economy grows more slowly, and families and businesses lose valuable time and money. Lack of investment in our infrastructure ripples throughout the economy: for every $1 invested in infrastructure nearly, $2 in output is created – putting our friends and neighbors to work.

Reacting to a recent Brookings Institution report, Jason Rittal, Vice Chair of the Coalition and Board Member of the Montana Economic Developers Association, said, “Too often, policy makers and the public tend to focus simply on the immediate and direct jobs created by the construction of infrastructure projects, while significant economic benefits extend far beyond construction.” The Brookings report highlights the diversified employment and long-term economic benefits of infrastructure investment.

The report notes the steady stream of trained workforce necessary to design, construct, maintain and operate our various infrastructure facilities, and estimates that over 14.5 million workers – or 11 percent of the entire US workforce – are directly employed in infrastructure-related jobs.

With this in mind, every dollar we spend on the asphalt, steel and concrete used to build our communities is also a direct investment in long-term jobs and the economy. To grow our economy, keep Montanan’s safe, and our communities strong, we need all levels of government and the private sector to work together to rebuild and repair our critical infrastructure.

About the Montana Infrastructure Coalition: The Montana Infrastructure Coalition (MIC) was formally established in the spring of 2016 as an informational non-profit organization. The long-term intent is to lobby the legislature to prioritize infrastructure investment and make long-term modification in financing structures to foster sustainable investments in our most critical infrastructure. Current Board Members include: Webb Brown (Montana Chamber of Commerce), Tim Burton (Montana League of Cities and Towns), Jason Rittal (Montana Economic Developers Association), Jon Metropoulos (Montana Association of Oil, Gas and Coal Counties), Cary Hegreberg (Montana Contractors Association), Chris Cavazos (Montana AFL-CIO), Jay Skoog (Montana Chapter – American Council of Engineering Companies).

For more information, please contact:
Executive Director, Darryl James
406.459-6574, or via email at [email protected]