A White House report rates Pennsylvania’s infrastructure at a C- after decades of “systemic” underfunding.
The analysis concludes that “historic” levels of investment via the American Jobs Plan will fix the state’s more than 3,300 deficient bridges and 7,500 miles of crumbling roads that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation lacks resources to address.
PennDOT’s funding woes remain a perennial problem for the General Assembly as it strategizes ways to close the agency’s $9.3 billion budget gap that don’t involving tolling bridges, as proposed by the Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative. Without any action, PennDOT’s shortfall will nearly double over the coming decade.
Lawmakers authorized the P3 program through Act 88 in 2012 as way to maximize investment in transportation projects. The tolling proposal, first introduced in February, expects to raise $2.2 billion for road and bridge maintenance over the next 30 years.
But lawmakers worry now, amid the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the wrong to increase the price of anything – especially a driver’s daily commute.
About 74% of funding for transportation projects comes from the state’s gas tax revenue, PennDOT said. Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, a trade organization representing road and bridge construction companies, estimates over the past 20 years, more than $15 billion in gas tax proceeds has been siphoned into the general fund to cover expenses “not related to highway improvement.”
Transfers to the Pennsylvania State Police, for example, have increased 29% since 2013, totaling $801 million in 2020.
APC told House lawmakers last month to consider using federal stimulus dollars to jump-start PennDOT projects and make headway on the state’s backlog of deficient roads and bridges.
Biden’s plan devotes $115 billion to the effort across the country. It also invests $85 billion into public transit and additional $50 billion into hardening communities against the impacts of climate change. The White House concludes that 37 storms in Pennsylvania generated by changing weather patterns caused $10 billion in damages over the last decade.
Pennsylvania was one of 25 states to receive a C- or lower. Georgia and Utah both received a C+, the highest grades given. At least nine states – Arkansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming – received no grade at all.
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