The State Senate yesterday passed its version of the transportation funding plan, and the House will take up the reconciliation today. The House version of the $2.3 billion plan passed on Tuesday.
Indiana County’s delegation in Harrisburg all voted for the respective bills. PennDOT says Senator Don White’s 41st District, which comprises several counties, will see about $109 million in increased funding for bridge replacements, interrsection improvements, and road repaving projects.
Pennsylvania has nearly 4,500 structurally deficient bridges, more than any other state in the nation, and 23 percent of the state's 44,000 miles of state-owned roads are in poor condition. The percentage of locally-owned roads and bridges in need of repair is even higher.
White said yesterday, "This plan is long overdue and we can't put it in place a moment too soon. Too many bridges have been recently placed under weight restrictions and too many roads are in woeful condition. We need to plow this money into the system and get the machinery running to make the repairs and improvements that the motorists of Pennsylvania need and deserve."
The bill comes with a cost; it will give Pennsylvania the highest gas taxes in the nation, with estimates as high as 28.5 cents per more on a gallon of gas. It eliminates the current 12-cent per gallon tax, but lifts the cap on the wholesale gasoline tax, which will be passed along to the consumer. It also will raise the price of vehicle registration by a dollar, and increase driver’s license renewal fees and the cost of some traffic tickets. And the bill gives each county the option of assessing a five-dollar fee for each vehicle owned by a county resident. After consideration of every factor, the House estimates the bill could cost the average driver an extra $2.50 per week. Triple-A says Pennsylvanians this week are paying an average of $3.34 per gallon of gas, while the national average is $3.21.
Among other effects of the bill: the Senate agreed to the prevailing wage concession preferred by the House, and the bill also allows for an increase in the maximum speed limit on certain roads to 70 miles per hour, after proper highway studies.