PennDOT Pathways: Addressing the Funding Gap
Potential Funding Solutions
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The funding gap is growing, and it's time to act! We are exploring alternative funding strategies that will allow us to maintain a state of good repair on our highways and bridges. Scroll through the icons below to learn about some of the potential solutions we're studying.
Note: Implementing managed lanes is authorized under current federal law. However, all tolling alternatives would require Pennsylvania P3 Board approval.
Tolling is a proven way to fund costly infrastructure projects like bridges. In the United States there are 137 bridge tolls, including three in our backyard over the Delaware river. In fact, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission temporarily converted the Scudder Falls Bridge over the Delaware River into a toll bridge only in 2019 in order to fund its replacement.
Managed lanes are additional lanes on a highway where the traffic is managed for faster travel. With managed lanes, traffic can be regulated by charging a toll, or by encouraging carpooling. It offers a choice to drivers — to pay a fee, carpool, or use the regular lanes.
Congestion pricing is another form of tolling where tolls rates vary based on the congestion on the roadway — encouraging users to carpool or use alternative routes when traffic gets too heavy — creating a reliable speed and trip.
Corridor tolling is similar to what we currently have on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Corridor tolling means tolling interstates and expressways based on the distance traveled along that road.
Road User Charges
These charges are a little different from tolls in that they are generally tied to GPS technologies to calculate the number of miles you drive. Essentially, drivers would be charged a small fee for each mile they drive during the year.
Fee & Tax Increases
This would include increasing vehicle-related fees and/or increasing various taxes, with the exception of the gas tax.
Some of these potential funding strategies might work better in certain scenarios and locations than others. It's important that as we study funding options, we consider how different strategies could work together as both near- and long-term solutions.
PennDOT Pathways — Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study
Now that we have identified some of the potential funding options how do we figure out what works best for Pennsylvania?
The PennDOT Pathways Program begins with a Planning and Environmental Linkages, or PEL, Study. The PEL study will evaluate potential funding options and analyze which options likely work best for various situations, as well as which options would provide the best near- and long-term solutions.
There are several steps to the study:
- Establish the purpose of the study
- Identify potential near- and long-term solutions
- Evaluate and advance appropriate funding solutions
- Recommend funding solutions and identify how and when they would be implemented
- Design a framework for implementing the recommended funding solutions
What questions do we ask when analyzing a potential funding solution?
- What are the benefits of this funding solution?
- Are there any negative impacts of this funding solution?
- What are the effects of this funding solution on low-income and minority populations?
- Does the funding solution consider our infrastructure requirements?
When assessing long-term solutions, we also ask:
- What approvals or authorizations will the funding solution require?
- How long will it take to put the funding solution into practice?
What We Heard From Pennsylvanians
In November 2020, PennDOT Pathways was launched and input was sought on the alternative funding options being evaluated in the PEL. Nearly 6,000 people attended the online engagement opportunity; 375 comments were received. The top five comment topics heard from Pennsylvanians and stakeholders included:
Suggestions to Raise Additional Funds
Opposition to Tax Increases
Suggestions for Budget Cuts/Layoffs
The PennDOT Pathways PEL study team will conduct statewide outreach to low-income and minority populations to understand the impacts of alternative funding solutions to their communities.
The results of this outreach and continued analysis including the final evaluation of alternative funding solutions and will be available for public comment in Spring 2021.