Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Preparing for Pennsylvania's New Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania is waking up to the reality that keeping our record number of structurally deficient bridges from falling down is critical to our economy. Yet transportation funding is few people's idea of a scintillating topic of conversation. This is where our job comes in - wading into the nitty gritty and telling you what's happening and how it will affect you.

Next week, Governor Corbett is likely to announce his plan for raising and distributing state funding for transportation. We have joined a coalition of transportation-related businesses, agencies, and advocates (The Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition) working ahead of Corbett's announcement. In addition to keeping bridges and roads in good repair, we've outlined biking and walking priorities in meetings with PA state senators and representatives and will continue to do so after Governor Corbett's plans are revealed.

Those of you who live outside Philadelphia may know the difficulty smaller towns and counties experience with funding pedestrian and bicycle projects. One of our key priorities for Pennsylvania's new transportation funding system is the creation of a competitive fund. Counties, municipalities, and planning organizations could apply to this fund to pay for:
  • local or county bicycle/pedestrian plans;
  • planning, design, and construction of on-street biking and walking facilities;
  • biking and walking safety programs;
  • maintenance of pavement markings and signage, including the existing statewide PA Bicycle Route system;
  • modification of striping and intersection plans to accommodate bike lanes, wider shoulders, and sidewalks.
Additionally, we are also pushing for the creation of a PennDOT Bicycle & Pedestrian office, and the elimination of road maintenance requirements that deter municipalities from installing new bicycle lanes and other infrastructure.

Pennsylvania has an annual $3.5 billion dollar gap in its transportation funding.  The Governor's own Transportation Funding Advisory Commission has suggested several options, including lifting the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, modifying fees for the motor vehicle license fund, among others.

There are lots of press stories lately about this issue, which we recommend reading them to learn more. We will be staying on top of this issue and will keep you, dear readers, informed of Governor Corbett's plans and their impact in the days and weeks ahead.