APC Study Examines PA’s Dire Transportation Funding Needs

Wed March 12, 2003 - Northeast Edition

A new report by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) should paint a cleaner picture of the state’s transportation needs.

Designed as a primer on infrastructure and unfunded needs, the study, titled Pennsylvania’s Transportation Funding Needs: An Assessment Study, will be released this spring.

“We are very excited about this study, in that it’s a first-of-its-kind project for Pennsylvania,” said Robert Latham, executive vice president of APC. “While providing some key information regarding the future of the state’s transportation systems, it has been written in a clear and concise manner which should appeal to transportation professionals and the public alike.”

Through the use of charts, graphics and easy-to-read text, the 16-page illustrated report relates the importance of a safe, efficient and effective transportation network. It also shows what will be needed to maintain our aging highways and bridges while meeting expanding capacity needs.

In addition to detailing Pennsylvania’s existing infrastructure, components of the report include sections on congestion and traffic growth; inadequate funding for local roads; and the economics of transportation.

One highlight of the study is that it identifies $17.5 billion in unfunded transportation projects, ranging from road and bridge projects to bike paths. These needs still exist despite PennDOT increasing project lettings over the past five years to $1.55 billion in 2002.

These needs are coming at a time when Pennsylvania faces the possibility of a reduction in federal funding with the upcoming transportation bill reauthorization, as well as a reduction in purchasing power for existing gas tax revenues due to inflation.

“This study shows the widening chasm between what we are able to do and what needs to be done to improve our highway and transportation infrastructure,” Latham said.

Introduced in the report is a proposal to implement a “Two Cents Solution for Pennsylvania,” which would raise the state’s gas tax by two cents per gallon, but would increase gas tax revenues to $1.6 billion if two cents per year were added to the tax each year for five years. A two-cent per gallon increase would cost an average family $25 annually.

“Our hope for this study is that it will encourage a public policy debate regarding unfunded transportation needs, as well as heighten the importance of our transportation infrastructure,” Latham said.

(This article appears courtesy of Pennsylvania Highway Information Association’s “Speaking of Highways.”)