Burgum says he would 'welcome' a change in highway funding formula

Jun 4, 2018

As the President and Congress discuss a new infrastructure plan, it appears the funding formula may change in terms of federal highway dollars.

It used to be that 80 percent would come from the feds, and 20 percent would be a state match. Now what’s being talked about is 80 percent from state and local sources, including public-private partnerships, with 20 percent being the federal share.

"I actually, at some level, welcome that," said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. "That gives us more local decision-making, and it can free us from federal regulations."

Burgum said federal dollars have caused cities and states to over-build roads.

"We have had a federal policy to build communities around automobiles, as opposed to building around people," Burgum said. "If you leave it to North Dakotans, we'll start building cities around people, because we'll be spending 80 percent of our dollars and 20 percent federal."

Burgum said this will allow the state to become more thoughtful about the economics of how cities are designed. He said for the past 30 years, the infrastructure subsidy has funneled around arterial streets and highways.

"And that has attracted the phenonemon of big-box retailers," Burgum said. "And we are building communities around the big-box retailers."

Burgum said those retailers are under threat from online retail.

"We can't design our cities around yesterday's business models," Burgum said.

Burgum said the definition of infrastructure needs to be broader than roads – it needs to include bike and walking trails, and broadband.