This week our Coalition was honored to meet with PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards, who made an excellent presentation about PennDOT’s impending financial challenges. The large conference room at PennDOT headquarters was pretty well packed, and there were many others listening in on a conference line.
Unfortunately, the news is troubling. Despite the significant progress PennDOT has made since the passage of Act 89 five years ago, it appears that next year’s construction budget will drop by $300 million, to $2.2 billion as the funding gap continues to grow.
Of greatest immediate concern is funding for public transportation, Secretary Richards said, due to the sunset of an annual subsidy from the PA Turnpike for $400 million. That subsidy has meant annual toll increases, and tolls will continue to increase even though the subsidy will end.
All told, the $3.5 billion funding gap calculated in 2010 will more than double by 2020 unless policymakers act. And the time to act, the secretary said, is in the first half of 2019.
As we have often repeated in this space, the passage of Act 89 did not mean our Coalition would be out of business. We will continue to advocate for adequate funding – for all modes of transportation – as we enter the second half of PennDOT’s “Decade of Investment.”
Transportation Issue Update
- A comprehensive study of Interstate 83 dubbed the “I-83 Master Plan” is recommending widening the roadway to six lanes, creating new interchanges and more in anticipation of predicted progressively worse congestion.
- Twenty-six airports will make infrastructure and equipment upgrades to maintain safety and expand aviation-related operational and economic opportunities with the assistance of over $6 million in state investments, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.
- Merging the management of the state’s busing services for Medicaid clients will cost the state millions and likely lead to increased fares and poorer service for riders, according to an analysis by the PA Public Transportation Association.
- PA Highway Information Association Managing Director Jason Wagner was quoted in a John Baer column on diverting money from the Motor License fund.
- In port news, PhilaPort plans to open a Regional Maritime Training Center in southwest Philly early in the new year.
- Governor Wolf has signed legislation that allows the use of automated work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission. The initiative is aimed at making work zones safer.
- PennDOT Secretary Richards says the state’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is near completion, as most of the 558 poor-condition bridges listed for the public-private partnership have been completed.
- Click here for county-by-county report on vehicle crashes.