AASHTO Journal, 6 December 2013
Just one day after voting it down, the Pennsylvania House passed on Nov. 19 a large transportation funding measure that will invest up to an additional $2.4 billion in the state’s transportation infrastructure system over the next five years.
“Today is a landmark day for Pennsylvania,” said Governor Tom Corbett in a statement. “This bold transportation plan demonstrates that our elected officials are serious about keeping our residents safe and our economy strong. The lawmakers who voted for this legislation have said ‘yes’ to our state’s future and I thank each lawmaker whose yes vote will keep Pennsylvania moving.”
House Bill 1060, hailed by state officials as “the most comprehensive piece of state transportation legislation in decades,” will provide every year an additional: $1.3 billion for state roads and bridges; up to $495 million for public transportation; $237 million for local roads and bridges; $144 million into a multi-modal fund; $86 million for Pennsylvania Turnpike expansion projects; and $30 million for dirt, gravel, and low-volume roads. Funding for the transportation bill will come from an increase in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees, a new surcharge on traffic law violations (such as speeding), lifting of the cap on the oil-franchise tax, and a two-cent decrease in the flat tax at the pump. This makes Pennsylvania the most recent state to tackle the gap between the typical funding available for transportation and what is needed to maintain and grow its transportation systems (more information on what other states are doing is available at AASHTO’s Center for Excellence in Project Finance..
The battle to pass the bill was long. The day before final passage (Nov. 18), the bill had failed in the Pennsylvania House by a vote of 103-98. Corbett then went back to the House to reiterate what a failure to pass a transportation funding bill would to do the state’s infrastructure, which resulted in a win the next day with a preliminary vote of 104-95. The Pennsylvania Senate, which had passed a similar bill in June (see related AASHTO Journal story here), easily passed the bill on Nov. 20 by a vote of 43-7. After the Senate passed the final measure, it went back to the House for final vote, where it again passed.
“Governor Corbett’s unwavering leadership has solved a decades-old problem that he inherited,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch. “A true leader makes the tough decisions and tonight, Pennsylvanians can be proud of the fact that they have a governor who does not back down from challenges.”
PennDOT officials say many of the road and bridge projects that will benefit from the bill’s passage will begin in the spring.
A copy of the bill is available here. Additional information on other states also coming up with innovative transportation funding measures is available at AASHTO’s Center for Excellence in Project Finance.