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Finance & Budget

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​North Carolina has a large and diverse transportation system consisting of all modes of transportation, including highways, rail, aviation, ferries, public transit and bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

With state appropriations of about $5 billion, the N.C. Department of Transportation is responsible for building and maintaining this transportation network, as well as overseeing the state's Division of Motor Vehicles.

Transportation funding is comprised of approximately 75 percent state revenues and 25 percent federal revenues.

State Funding Resources  

​Percentage of Transportation Funding - SFY22
​Motor Fuel Tax
​50 percent

The motor fuel tax changes at the beginning of each year based on a statutory formula that takes into consideration population and energy cost inflation.

On Jan. 1, 2023 as required by N.C. General Statute 105-449.80, the motor fuels tax rate changed to 40.5 cents per gallon. This rate is in effect through​ Dec. 31, 2023.

​DMV Fees
​25 percent
The N.C. General Assembly sets various fees that the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles collects primarily from licensed drivers and vehicle registrations. Fees are adjusted for inflation every four years beginning July 1, 2020 per G.S 20-4.02.
​Highway Use Tax on Vehicle Title Transfers
​25 percent
The N.C. General Assembly set the tax at 3 percent of a motor vehicle's net retail value (after trade-in allowance) when a certificate of title is issued in North Carolina credited to the Highway Trust Fund. There is also an 8 percent use tax for short-term vehicle rental credited to the Highway Fund.

Federal Funding

Appropriated by Congress, federal transportation funding comes from a federal motor fuel tax and vehicle fees (mostly on trucks). It accounts for approximately 25 percent of NCDOT's overall budget and about 50 percent of its construction budget.

Details about the current appropriations bill, called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, are available on the Federal Highway Administration website.

State Funding Allocation & Distribution

Funding from the three state revenue sources (Motor Fuel Tax, DMV fees and Highway Use Tax) are allocated to two state funds the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund as outlined in the chart below.

​ResourceHighway FundHighway Trust Fund
​Motor Fuel Tax75 percent​ 
25 percent 
DMV Fees​​Approximately 85 percent​Approximately 15 percent
​Highway Use TaxApproximately 7 percent
Approximately ​93 percent

Highway Fund

The Highway Fund primarily supports projects that help take care of the state's existing transportation system. This includes resurfacing highways, replacing bridges and paving unpaved secondary roads. Funds are distributed across North Carolina based on need.

The Highway Fund also supports the Powell Bill Program, which provides state aid to municipalities for pedestrian, bicycle and road improvements.

Strategic Transportation Investments

Strategic Transportation Investments primarily funds new construction and expansion projects across all modes of transportation. Funding is allocated on local, regional and statewide levels based on data and input from local planning organizations and ​NCDOT divisions.

Advance Construction

Advance Construction is a funding tool used by all states. It allows NCDOT to program more projects throughout the year, start them sooner and save money.

When projects eligible for federal funding have been identified, NCDOT can accelerate the project by using state funds to pay for the project’s cost first; then the department will use Federal Highway Admi​nistration dollars to reimburse itself for the federal portion of construction, which is typically 80 percent.

People may visit the advance construction webpage​ to learn more about this funding tool and view related documents.


4/20/2023 11:34 AM