Transportation Funding

Transportation Funding Plan Invests in Pennsylvania’s Future

The General Assembly recently took a major step forward in improving our aging and deteriorating transportation infrastructure, passing legislation that will increase Pennsylvania’s annual transportation investment by $2.3 billion.

Act 89 of 2013 will enable our state to repair unsafe roads and aging bridges, undertake construction projects in congested areas and improve our ports, rail lines and mass transit systems.

It has been more than 16 years since Pennsylvania enacted a meaningful transportation funding program and two years since a special task force recommended comprehensive funding options. Yet, our transportation network remains in dire need of long-overdue maintenance, construction and safety upgrades.

Safe and reliable transportation isn’t simply a matter of personal convenience. It’s about jobs, economic development, quality of life and safety. This new law provides commonsense, well-thought-out funding mechanisms that are fair and reasonable. And most important, it will allow us to start investing in our transportation system now – rather than putting off much-needed maintenance and construction.

What Transportation Investments Mean to Pennsylvania…

Safety First

With more than 6,500 structurally deficient bridges statewide, Pennsylvania is the worst state in the nation for ensuring the safety of the bridges our family cars, school buses and industry trucks drive over each day. This package will help move us from worst to first in protecting our citizens.

50,000 Jobs Created

The passage of a comprehensive transportation funding package will create more than 50,000 new jobs for our citizens and their families. In addition, the state will save 12,000 jobs that would have been lost without a new transportation commitment.

$1 Billion Saved

PennDOT will be required to implement $1 billion in cost-savings and efficiencies over the next decade alone. Our hard working families deserve to know that each and every dollar invested will be stretched as far as possible.

Long-Term Prosperity

Investing in our infrastructure helps build the foundation upon which we can promote and advance a successful 21st century economic development strategy.

Highlighting the Need for New Investment

Pennsylvania is currently among the worst states in the nation when it comes to the conditions of our roads and bridges. Report after report cites the pressing need to upgrade our infrastructure. Pennsylvania leads the nation with 6,500 structurally deficient bridges.

In August, PennDOT began implementing new weight restrictions for about 1,000 bridges due to safety concerns and to extend bridge life. The postings are resulting in new or further weight restrictions to 2,000 plus bridges previously posted with weight restrictions.

Approximately 36 percent of Pennsylvania’s major roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition.

Poor road conditions, traffic congestion and outdated features are estimated to cost state motorists more than $9 billion a year in vehicle-operating costs, crashes, and road delays.

By 2017, it is estimated that 17,000 miles of state-owned roads would be rated in poor condition if no action were taken.

How Your Community Will Benefit from New Funding

Municipalities maintain approximately 78,000 miles of road and nearly 6,400 bridges. But a lack of funding has forced communities to put critical road, bridge and public safety projects on hold. Passage of the transportation funding plan will give a green light to thousands of projects throughout the state – creating jobs and addressing critical public safety needs. Here is a list of projects, county by county, that can now be funded.

A New, Responsible Approach to Funding Transportation

For years, transportation projects in Pennsylvania have been supported by an outdated funding structure, prompting a serious shortfall in the system’s ability to maintain safe and reliable roads and bridges. Rather than allow revenues to self-adjust with inflation to keep up with costs, decisions were made decades ago to impose artificial caps on gas taxes paid by oil companies and vehicle registrations fees. The result is the system we have today.

This transportation package will now take a more responsible and commonsense approach to the way we pay for road and bridge projects.

The state will immediately eliminate the 12-cents liquid fuels tax that is paid by motorists at the pump. This consumer levy will be replaced by the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which taxes oil companies on the wholesale price of gas.

Over the next five years, the state will also gradually remove the existing artificial cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax that has allowed oil companies to pay taxes based on the wholesale price of gas in 1983.

Passenger vehicle registration fees will be tied to inflation in the coming years to help prevent future transportation funding shortfalls.


Detailed Key Points

Economic Impact

  • Pennsylvania has been ranked by MSNBC as 30th out of the 50 states when it considered which states are best for doing business. Of the ten categories used to score each state in this ranking, Pennsylvania ranked 35th of out 50 for infrastructure and transportation.
  • Passage of comprehensive transportation funding legislation will lead to the creation of more than 50,000 family-sustaining jobs in multiple employment sectors.
  • The legislation will prevent the layoff of 12,000 private sector jobs.
  • The legislation also provides desperately needed relief for our dairy, timber, and coal industries, primarily located in rural Pennsylvania.
  • Our urban and suburban centers will see congestion relief, critical to job creation and retention.

Public Safety

  • Pennsylvania is number one out of 50 states in the number of structurally deficient bridges. Out of 31,000 state and local bridges, 6,500 (21%) are rated structurally deficient.
  • In August, PennDOT began implementing new weight restrictions for about 1,000 bridges due to safety concerns and to extend bridge life. The postings are resulting in new or further weight restrictions to 2,000 plus bridges previously posted with weight restrictions.
  • 36% of Pennsylvania’s major roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition.
  • By 2017, it is estimated that 17,000 miles of state-owned roads would be rated in poor condition if no action were taken.
  • The passage of comprehensive transportation funding legislation ensures that thousands of children riding in school buses will have safe commutes to and from school and that ambulances and fire trucks will not be delayed in providing life saving emergency services.

Mass Transit

  • Comprehensive transportation funding legislation ensures that SEPTA will not shut down service.
  • Countless businesses rely on our transit agencies to move their employees to and from work. The interruption of this service would result in cataclysmic consequences to employers throughout the Commonwealth.
  • For Pennsylvania’s senior citizens and people with disabilities, the interruption of transit services poses a stark reality: House Arrest.
  • The passage of comprehensive transportation funding legislation, however, guarantees that those most in need of assistance will be able to get to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, and the jobs that sustain them.

Rail/Aviation/Ports

  • Pennsylvania has seen a rebirth in its rail industry, reducing congestion and pollution. But our rail infrastructure is antiquated and struggles to meet current demand.
  • The passage of comprehensive transportation funding legislation will buttress our short line railroads, some of which are headquartered in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
  • AMTRAK’s Keystone services will continue to prosper, moving passengers from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
  • Pennsylvania’s 133 public use airports will make the needed capital investment to keep our state competitive in the 21st Century.
  • Our three Ports (Pittsburgh, Erie, Philadelphia), which are vital to the import and export of raw goods, will continue to sustain economic development.

The Consumer

  • The nonpartisan TRIP report has indicated Pennsylvania motorists pay in excess of $9 billion annually due to vehicle wear and tear related to poor road conditions, vehicle crashes, and fuel costs related to congestion delays.
  • For years, transportation projects in Pennsylvania have been supported by an outdated funding structure, prompting a serious shortfall in the system’s ability to maintain safe and reliable roads and bridges. Rather than allow revenues to self-adjust with inflation to keep up with costs, decisions were made decades ago to impose artificial caps on gas taxes paid by oil companies and vehicle registrations fees. The result is the system we have today.
  • Enactment of comprehensive transportation funding legislation removes the artificial cap ($1.25/gallon) on gas and diesel paid at the wholesale level by oil companies. This cap has been in effect since 1983.
  • The comprehensive transportation funding legislation eliminates the 12 cent flat tax paid at the pump. This consumer levy will be replaced by the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which taxes oil companies on the wholesale price of gas.
  • All vehicle registration fees will be tied to inflation in the coming years to help prevent future transportation funding shortfalls. Passenger vehicle fees, such as drivers licenses, will not increase until 2015 and at a slower rate.