Transportation Budget

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

City of Bridges: The following report is the second is a three-part series examining the status of Pittsburgh bridges as the Pennsylvania Legislature considers funding for transportation infrastructure.

Hundreds of bridges in Allegheny County alone are overdue for repairs or upgrades, and whatever happens in the final weeks of the legislative session, it’s unlikely lawmakers will approve funding for all of them.

joseph a / Flickr


City of Bridges: The following report is the first is a three-part series examining the status of Pittsburgh bridges as the Pennsylvania Legislature considers funding for transportation infrastructure.

The Pittsburgh area is home to hundreds of bridges — by some counts, more than any city in the world.

It also has a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges than any other U.S. city. If your goal is to highlight the problem, one in particular makes a pretty good backdrop.

A transportation funding proposal isn’t quite ready for a vote before the full state House.
Negotiations are expected to continue into next month as state lawmakers try to secure public works payment-related concessions from labor unions that can woo Republican votes without losing support from Democratic members.
But House Speaker Sam Smith won’t even say he’s cautiously optimistic that a plan could pass in November.

While Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders argue over thresholds for prevailing wage projects and gasoline tax rates, one of the state’s most popular former governor’s is calling on lawmakers to act quickly. 

“Transportation infrastructure is key to not only the quality of life but your ability to be competitive,” said former Gov. Tom Ridge. “People will see that once Pennsylvania invested today in its future, they’ll get immediate results.”

The leader of the state House Republicans plans to seek a floor vote on a transportation funding proposal passed by the Senate last May.

Majority Leader Mike Turzai doesn't support the $2.5 billion proposal, but he notes that since Democrats are clamoring for it and the governor has noted his support for it, the measure should be brought to a vote.

Both the Pirates and the Steelers packed fans into sold-out stadiums Sunday night, but the Port Authority of Allegheny County was the true winner, according to Rich Fitzgerald.

At a news conference Monday, the county executive praised the Port Authority for how it handled Sunday night’s massive crowds and provided a report card for its progress.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Labor leaders and organizations that represent businesses gathered Thursday under Pittsburgh’s Liberty Bridge, which has been weight restricted. The group is calling on the state House to pass a transportation funding plan already passed in the Senate. The consequences of doing nothing, said the group, would be disastrous for the city and the region.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed an on-time budget, but without any victories on his other top three legislative priorities.

Liquor privatization, transportation funding and pension overhaul will have to wait until the fall for further legislative action.

A transportation funding plan got stuck in the House. A bid to change how alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania stalled in the Senate. Pension overhaul is a plan neither chamber is ready to advance.

What's Next for Pennsylvania Transportation?

Jun 24, 2013

A version of the Pennsylvania transportation funding bill passed last week is expected to be voted on in the State House of Representatives Tuesday.

But State Senator Jim Ferlo is concerned that the bill does not allocate enough money for infrastructure maintenance. He's also opposed to a provision that would allow partial privatization of select bus lines. State Senator Jim Ferlo talks about why he voted against the funding bill and legislation that would change the structure of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit board.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Governor Tom Corbett stood under Pittsburgh’s Liberty Bridge to discuss the need for more investment in road and bridge projects, as well as mass transit. This comes days after the Pennsylvania Senate voted to boost state funding for transportation systems by nearly 50 percent.

“We are moving in the right direction toward a transportation funding program that is sustainable, that is long-term, that is fair, and that is balanced,” said Corbett, “between my proposal and the one offered by Senate Bill 1, it means our roads and bridges will be safer, our economy more sound.

The state Senate has passed a transportation funding plan, after years of calls for action and months of legislative discussions.

By the fifth year of the plan's implementation, the state would be yielding $2.5 billion. The money would come largely from higher driver's license and vehicle registration fees, surcharges on traffic violations, and the removal of the cap on a tax paid by gas stations.

"Or as some people like to call them, user fees," said Sen. John Rafferty pointedly on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Gov. Tom Corbett is in call-to-action mode, urging passage of a transportation funding proposal for the second time in a week.

A $2.5 billion plan is expected to be passed by the full Senate within the next two weeks.

But the real question is whether House Republicans will vote for a bill that does things like hike driver’s license fees and uncap a tax paid by gas stations.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said he’s been going to each House lawmaker to explain what’s at stake.

The chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee is introducing a plan that would hike motorist fees and some traffic ticket surcharges as a way of coming up with $2.5 billion for transportation infrastructure.

The measure marks the first legislative follow-up to the governor’s $1.8 billion funding plan, which many in industry and the legislature deemed to be too small.

But Republican Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County is giving Gov. Tom Corbett credit for taking the first step to roll out a funding proposal in the first place.