Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Geist (R-Altoona), the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said his 11-point plan to deal with the Pennsylvania transportation crisis has been formally introduced in the current Legislative Special Session.
A recent report by the State Transportation Advisory Committee estimates that an additional $3.5 billion a year is needed to meet existing and immediate transportation infrastructure needs in the Keystone State.
“I crafted and announced this plan earlier this year in the hope that we could finally apply common-sense, long-term solutions to our transportation funding crisis, and to reform the process in which we build and maintain our vital infrastructure,” said Geist. “I have been working hard to reach out to a bipartisan group of lawmakers, construction and business entities and to the citizens of our Commonwealth in order to build consensus on what we need to do to achieve immediate and future transportation goals. Rebuilding an aging and deteriorating transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania has to be priority one, and now is the time to act.”
The plan includes legislation that would enable and implement public-private partnerships, uncap the Oil Company Franchise Tax, shift the Pennsylvania State Police operating budget from the Motor License Fund to the General Fund, authorize the Commonwealth to apply for permission to toll portions of I-95, increase the local operating match for mass transit, provide options for mass-transit funding and establish a pilot program to allow private contracting of maintenance operations in a selected PennDOT district.
In addition to those measures, legislation that would allow PennDOT to increase usage of design-build projects and a resolution calling for a study of a vehicle miles-traveled tax are included.
Pennsylvania’s infrastructure includes 5,646 structurally deficient state-owned bridges, the most of any state in the nation and more than in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland combined. It includes 7,000 miles, or about 18%, of state-maintained roads in “very poor condition.” It also includes mass-transit systems of all sizes that face the anticipated loss of a combined $160 million.