Dear KTFC Members & Friends:
Amid a flurry of recent news articles regarding the resumption of suspended highway construction projects across the Commonwealth, shoes have begun to drop on the issue of how such projects will be funded.
With traffic volume and toll revenue down significantly as residents continue to shelter in place, the Turnpike will skip its quarterly subsidy to public transportation when it comes due in July. Instead, SEPTA, the Port Authority of Allegheny County and all other mass transit agencies will rely on coronavirus relief money to tide them over.
The $450 million annual subsidy drops to $50 million in 2023, which ultimately puts the burden on the state’s General Fund.
PennDOT’s budget also is beginning to suffer, as fuel tax revenue has fallen off since mid-March. April revenue was down by 30 percent, and acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said the agency would need $700 million to $800 million in COVID-19 federal assistance to keep scheduled construction projects on track.
We’ve known that funding shortages were on the horizon since the passage of Act 89 of 2013, and they have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic. Having the federal government step up would certainly go a long way toward getting people back to work and improving our transportation system.
TRANSPORTATION ISSUE UPDATE
- Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said the agency has been preparing for a wide range of scenarios, from worst case to best.
- The Turnpike will miss its scheduled $112.5 million quarterly subsidy for public transportation in July.
- PennDOT said IDs that expired after March 16 will be extended through June.
- Construction projects that had been suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic are restarting across Pennsylvania.
- Four toll bridges connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey will once again accept cash beginning May 11.
- We imagine one of the best things about being a transportation writer is writing that periodic but always entertaining article about banned vanity plates. The Morning Call weighs in.