A variety of federal, state, regional and local funding sources are available to fund regional transportation projects and services, including roadway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements. The most flexible transportation funding available to the greater Tucson region is associated with the Regional Transportation Authority’s countywide half-cent transaction privilege tax, approved by Pima County voters in 2006 for regional transportation projects. Federal and state dollars have more restrictions on which projects can be funded, such as transit or roadway, freeway or regional arterial corridor projects.
As a federally established metropolitan planning organization, Pima Association of Governments can secure federal transportation funds by preparing a long-range transportation plan every four years.
Every two years, PAG programs over $1 billion dollars as part of developing its five-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for new projects in the greater Tucson area. The TIP must be fully funded before projects can move into construction. PAG works with its members – local, regional, state and tribal entities – and other community stakeholders to develop the TIP.
Projects identified in the TIP must align with anticipated projects and funding identified in PAG’s long-range transportation plan, which is known as the Regional Mobility and Accessibility Plan.
Below is a list of the funding streams available to our region to meet a growing demand for transportation improvements. PAG’s current RMAP identifies $15 billion in available transportation funding for the next 25 years and anticipates an additional $17 billion in funding needs for other proposed transportation priorities.
Federal Transportation Funding
The federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, enacted in December 2015, provides funds for surface transportation programs. The FAST Act builds upon changes made in the prior surface transportation legislation, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which included requirements for more streamlined, performance-based and multimodal planning.
Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program funds may be used to improve safety, maintain infrastructure condition, reduce traffic congestion, and improve efficiency of the system and freight movement, while protecting the environment. Annually, the greater Tucson region receives about $20 million in federal STBG funds for transportation improvements.
In addition, the region receives approximately $20 million in federal transit funds that are used for transit operations, vehicle purchases and fleet maintenance.
Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund
State taxes applied to gasoline and fuel use, motor carriers and vehicle licenses, as well as motor vehicle registration and other fees go into the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF). The state gas tax, for example, is 18 cents per gallon and has not increased since the early 1990s.
The funds deposited in the HURF are distributed directly to cities, towns and counties and to the State Highway Fund through a distribution formula. Annually, PAG receives about $24 million from the State Highway Fund for regional transportation improvements in the greater Tucson region.
Regional Transportation Authority Funding
A 20-year half-cent transaction privilege (excise) tax was approved by Pima County voters in 2006 to fund the Regional Transportation Authority’s regional transportation plan. The RTA, a political subdivision of the state, is managed by PAG. The RTA tax applies to retail sales, contracting, utilities, restaurants and bars, rental of real property and rental of personal property. Groceries and pharmaceutical items are not taxed.
Annually, the RTA tax generates about $85 million. The funds can only be used for roadway, transit, safety, environmental and economic vitality projects identified in the 2006-voter approved plan. Both the tax and plan will expire at the end of June 2026.
Regional Transportation Funding 101
View Pima Association of Governments’ transportation funding video to learn more about how transportation funding sources for the region work together, how much the Regional Transportation Authority contributes to the region on an annual basis compared to other funding sources and the overall funding flexibility the RTA offers as a local funding source, which is voter approved and effective through June 2026.