HARRISBURG – Today, the Senate approved by 45-5 vote, a comprehensive transportation bill that will provide additional funding to Pennsylvania’s deteriorating transportation system. The proposal will increase Pennsylvania’s annual transportation investment by $2.5 billion.
Senator Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) voted in favor of the legislation, continuing his support of transportation infrastructure funding in the Commonwealth. “The time has come to do something to fix our roads and bridges and provide the type of transportation system that is safe and promotes growth” said Corman. “Transportation infrastructure is a core function of government, and the Commonwealth’s ability to provide an adequate system has deteriorated to the point where the overall cost to consumers to do nothing is more than the cost to actually fix the roads.”
The transportation bill, Senate Bill 1, will increase Pennsylvania’s annual transportation investment by $2.5 billion, mainly through gradually phasing out the artificial wholesale price cap on fuel under the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which was put in place in 1983. The last funding increase approved in the Commonwealth was sixteen years ago.
“Since the last action on transportation funding, the cost of construction has increased while the actual funding dollars have decreased due to increased fuel economy in vehicles,” said Corman. “This has provided a circumstance where Penn DOT is now unable to maintain current conditions, let alone increase capacities where needed, stay on top of bridge repairs, or create efficiencies and modernizations to produce future savings.”
The impact to the 34th District will be significant according to Senator Corman. “The 34th District will have at least 400 lane miles improved and 52 bridges replaced. This proposal will invest well over a billion dollars into the region over ten years,” stated Corman. Part of the proposal includes increased road capacity for the area.
Today, Pennsylvania leads the nation in structurally deficient bridges and of the 44,000 miles of state-owned roads in Pennsylvania, 9,000 miles (23%) are rated in poor condition. Of the 4,400 structurally deficient bridges, 650 are weight-limited, and another 50 have been closed. Without a funding plan, Penn DOT Secretary Schoch has stated that the 650 weight limited bridges may have to be increased to around 1,400 bridges.
“It’s clear that our transportation problems impact every resident in the Commonwealth in one form or another,” stated Corman. “Most motorists across the state now spend at least a gallon of gas each week sitting in congestion because of overcrowded highways or driving extra miles because older bridges in their areas have been shut down, not to mention the wear and tear on vehicles. And most importantly, with all the structurally deficient bridges, by doing nothing, we are creating a public safety issue. That is not a transportation system that meets the needs of Pennsylvanians.”
Under Senate Bill 1, at least 50,000 new jobs are estimated to result through road maintenance and contracting, as well as a more hospitable environment for business to develop. “Of the many ways you can describe new transportation funding in the Commonwealth – a safety plan, a fiscally responsible plan – a jobs plan is definitely one of them,” said Corman. “Job creation is very important in Pennsylvania and this plan will bring in more businesses that are now staying away due to crumbling transportation network that hinders their ability to move their products.”