Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (left) stands with PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards at a press conference to discuss the PennDOT audit. Image: Aud. Gen. DePasquale via Periscope.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week announced his new audit of the Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) shows the agency could be further along in repairing rough highways and fixing 2,829 structurally deficient bridges with the billions of dollars it has been forced to pay to State Police.
DePasquale noted that transfers from the Motor License Fund to State Police have totaled more than $4.25 billion since FY 2012-13, money that PennDOT could otherwise have used to address a growing list of needed repairs across the state.
“More than 2,800 state-maintained bridges across Pennsylvania are structurally deficient and our bridges average over 50 years in age—beyond what they were designed to last,” DePasquale said. “That $4.25 billion could have cut that list in half, and if PennDOT could use all of the gas tax money for roads and bridges we could get that number to zero in about 5 years.”
Under the state Constitution, proceeds from the Motor License Fund are to be used solely for the construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of, and safety on public highways and bridges. The General Assembly did act to phase in a cap on the amount of money going to State Police from the Motor License Fund. In FY 2017-18, State Police received $789,580,000 from the fund.
The audit also examined how funds are awarded through the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF), which PennDOT administers with the help of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Funds are awarded at the governor’s discretion for transportation projects associated with economic development opportunities. During the audit period, between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2017, PennDOT indicated the governor approved TIIF monies for 27 projects totaling almost $65.2 million.
The audit also recommends that PennDOT speed up the grant cycle for funds awarded through the Multimodal Transportation Fund, which was created to help communities pay for projects that promote pedestrian safety and transit revitalization. DePasquale said making such a change would add more transparency to the grant process and eliminate confusion about how much grant money is available.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General