2020 Census: You count when it comes to transportation

Estimates used to allocate finite funding for construction, transit and more

PHOENIX – Why is it important for you to get around to responding to the 2020 Census? One of the many reasons is especially important here at the Arizona Department of Transportation: Census results affect how we and others help you get around.

AZCensus2020 bannerFrom the highways and local streets you drive to the bridges you cross to the public transportation you use, results of the 2020 Census will influence the allocation of limited transportation funding. 

“The various programs and allocation formulas are complex, but the theme is simple: You count when it comes to the 2020 Census and its importance to Arizona’s state and local transportation systems,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “That’s one more reason why participating helps ensure a brighter future for you and every other Arizonan.”

Full participation is especially important when it comes to getting Arizona’s rightful share of all types of federal funding. According to AZCensus2020.gov, each year more than $20.5 billion in federal funding to Arizona for transportation, community centers, housing, medical services and more can be tied to the census count. That’s nearly $3,000 per person per year. 

“An undercount could result in a direct loss of millions of dollars over the next decade,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism and chair of the Arizona Complete Count Committee. “By responding to the Census, we can preserve the outstanding quality of life Arizona offers and plan for our future.”

I-10 widening in EloyFederal funding plays a big role in transportation. The federal share for most highway, road and street projects in Arizona is more than 90%, and federal funding also contributes significantly to public transit. 

In fiscal 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized nearly $737 million in federal funding for Arizona. Much of that annual allocation goes toward programs improving the national highway system, addressing congestion mitigation and air quality, and supporting metropolitan planning and surface transportation. Each of these relies to a varying degree on census data, including but not limited to population.

Also consider your local streets. Even though they aren’t part of the state highway system, full participation in the 2020 Census helps ensure that your community gets its proper share of transportation funding, not just from the federal government but through the state’s Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF).

Many of the federal transportation programs relying on census data also apply to local governments and metropolitan planning organizations. There was nearly $100 million in such funding in fiscal 2019.

Do you take the bus, light rail or trolley?  Check, check, check when it comes to the importance of population in allocating federal dollars. Population is a leading factor in how the Federal Transit Administration allocates funds for the formula grants ADOT administers for rural areas, going toward capital, planning and operating assistance. It’s also a leading way the federal government allocates formula grants for transit capital, operating assistance and planning in urban areas. 

By today, April 1, every home in Arizona will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You can respond online, by phone and by mail.

For more information and for a link to fill out the Census online, please visit AZCensus2020.gov. You also can help by following and sharing from @AZCensus2020 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.