A study released this month offered a new option for relieving the
transportation funding crisis in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Economy League study said regional taxes could be used
to fund road, bridge and mass transit improvements throughout the state. The
report is based on six months of telephone polling and interviews with state
and federal transportation experts, the Pittsburgh
Transportation experts said that while state lawmakers should provide
additional statewide funding to make needed improvements to roads and bridges,
regional funds also could be tapped.
If signed into law, such a multi-county transportation region could be
authorized to increase the fuel tax, or another fee or toll, in specified
counties. Revenue would stay there to help pay for work on roads, bridges and
mass transit, the Post-Gazette reported.
According to the study, state officials should explore the idea of
"permitting regions to explore alternative financing mechanisms and regional
taxing authority to address unique regional (transportation) needs."
If approved, Pennsylvania would join such states as California, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri that have transportation districts to help cover costs for roads,
bridges or transit systems.
Additional transportation funding recommendations were to use the sale
of bonds to pay for road and bridge work and explore public-private
partnerships. One other recommendation was to require revenue generated from
such enhancers as higher fuel taxes and higher vehicle registration fees be
dedicated solely for transportation.
The league's report follows the release of another study from the
Pennsylvania Transportation and Funding Reform Commission that was similar in
Among the possibilities for how to pay for transportation projects
mentioned in the commission's report include charging drivers to use roads that
are now toll free, such as Interstate 80, and creating public-private
partnerships for some major highways, including giving a private group a
long-term lease to operate the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Post-Gazette reported.
What the state will do to pay for needed transportation work should get
a little clearer next month. The commission is expected to deliver a final
report with recommendations on how to keep roads, bridges and transit from
further deterioration by Nov. 15 - a week after the general election.
- By Keith Goble, state legislative