To find ways to solve Pennsylvania’s growing transportation fiscal crisis, Gov. Edward Rendell (D) is planning to launch a special “road-funding” tour, aimed at visiting six counties and the city of Philadelphia to discuss the impact of highway and bridge deterioration with the public.
“In the past four years, we have spent more on repairing roads and bridges than at any time in history,” Rendell said. “Still, without a significant infusion of funding we cannot begin to fill the growing gap between our resources and the pressing need for more repairs and support for our transit systems.”
He pointed in particular to a 36% jump in highway and bridge construction costs over the past two years, which has threatened the ability of Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) to build smoother pavements and tackle a multi-billion dollar bridge backlog.
The Governor said the long-standing financial crisis facing public transit and the critical backlog of deteriorating bridges and roads was outlined in a recent report from the bipartisan Transportation Funding and Reform Commission, identifying $1.7 billion in needs— $965 million for highways and bridges and $760 million for public transit— and recommended the gap be plugged, largely, by increasing taxes and fees on consumers.
Rendell hopes to discuss two efforts on his four-day tour: a tax on oil company profits to support mass transit, along with leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to generate revenue for highways and bridges.