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PennDOT Pathways

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Transportation Funding

Final PEL Study Published

The Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study to identify and evaluate near- and long-term alternative funding solutions as part of PennDOT's Pathways program has been published. Read the PEL study here.

Transportation Revenue Options Commission

The Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) was established in March 2021 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Tom Wolf (PDF). It developed comprehensive funding recommendations for Pennsylvania's vast transportation network. Read the TROC report here.

PennDOT Pathways

Funding for a Secure Tomorrow

Despite rising traffic and freight travel in our state, the funds available to maintain our transportation system have not kept pace due to shrinking gas tax and federal revenues. Our investment needs are outgrowing our current funding, and this gap gets worse every year. That's why we're launching a new program — PennDOT Pathways. Through this program, we'll analyze new future-focused sources of funding for our transportation system that could better serve our communities and all Pennsylvanians for the next generation.

In the current phase of the Pathways program, we are focusing on our highway and bridge funding needs.

How Did We Get Here?

Many of Pennsylvania's highways and bridges are in need of replacement or rehabilitation. As of 2019, more than 2,500 bridges were rated in poor condition. The average bridge age is 50 years, and with a typical life span of approximately 75 years, this need is not going away anytime soon. Repairs are critical to maintain safety and our economy, and making these repairs on our critical interstate bridges has required diverting funds from regional projects.

Side view of a bridge with an orange construction vehicle reaching its arm down with the bucket just under the bridge.

Why We Have a Funding Problem

Animated Gif of northeastern US map. Pennsylvania is highlighted, and the rest of states fade in. Pennsylvania's road system is comparable in size to NY, NJ, and all of the New Englad states combined!
Where do we get our current bridge and highway funding?

74%
Gas Taxes

17%
Vehicle Fees

9%
General Fund

But our funding is at risk.

In 2019, the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) produced a report that identified six major risks to our funding. The largest two, at the time, were federal funding and gas tax. And now, after a global pandemic, we have new challenges that change the way people use our system.

The bottom line is that our current and future funding is at risk for three reasons:

1

Lower Revenue From Gas Tax

(more fuel-efficient vehicles)

People are using less gas. Fuel efficiency is great for the environment and our pockets. But this means we are collecting less gas-tax revenue.

2

Unpredictable Federal Funding

 

The Federal gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993 — 27 years ago. To put this in perspective, an average cup of coffee was 75 cents then and now costs about $1.59. Inflation caused the cost of a cup of coffee go up. And it also raised the cost of construction materials. In fact, the cost of construction materials has gone up 140% over the past 30 years. As a result, the Federal Highway Trust Fund does not provide the funding that is needed for national infrastructure.

3

Changes in Travel Patterns

(COVID-19)

Vehicle miles traveled dropped 40% in the spring and have recovered somewhat but still remain down 15%. This may have a lasting impact on our economy, where and how we work, and where and how we go to school. PennDOT estimates that gas tax revenue is down nearly $500 million since last year, with losses still occurring.

The Consequences of Doing Nothing

About PennDOT's 25,400 bridges

2,500+ in poor condition


#2 PA's rank for number of bridges in poor condition

Basic Needs

Critical Maintenance

Basic needs of our highways and bridges must be covered first to maintain safety and meet federal requirements.

Pavement Repairs

Fixing rough roads

Traffic

Reducing traffic congestion

Reliability

Keeping bridges and highways open

Basic Needs

Critical Maintenance

Basic needs of our highways and bridges must be covered first to maintain safety and meet federal requirements.

Pavement Repairs

Fixing rough roads

Traffic

Reducing traffic congestion

Reliability

Keeping bridges and highways open

Impacts of Budget Shortfall

Impacts to PA

Delayed maintenance

Delayed maintenance leads to expensive fixes later, and a risk of closures and detours.

Lost time2

$5.8 billion in lost time and fuel costs.

Bridge closure3

One bridge closure can cost Pennsylvania drivers approximately $70,000 per day.

Impacts to the Traveling Public

More fuel & maintenance costs1

$550 per commuter lost.

Lost time, wasted fuel2

$1,100 in lost time and fuel costs per commuter.

Unpredictable detours3

$10 of fuel and vehicle costs per detour.

Impacts to Freight Mobility

Weight restrictions

NHS bridges may need to be posted with weight restrictions requiring detours that increase truck travel time and costs.

Truck bottlenecks

Pennsylvania has six of the top 100 "truck bottlenecks" in the United States — raising costs of goods and services.

Additional costs4

Costs truck drivers an additional 14.2 million hours per year.

The budget shortfall impacts everyone — individuals like you, businesses across Pennsylvania, and the goods and services on which we rely.

These reduced funds, combined with federal performance requirements, mean we've had to shift funding from other regional projects to maintain safety, overall pavement and bridge conditions on the Interstates.

  1. Based on the difference in vehicle maintenance costs for commuter driving an average distance of 30 miles per day to work (roundtrip) on smooth versus on poor quality pavement.
  2. Based on congestion in PA urban areas, and monetized using national value of time rates, and average state fuel prices.
  3. Calculated based on average detour length of 9.8 miles, average speed of 55 mph, and AADT for PA bridges.
  4. Calculated by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in the Urban Mobility Report 2019

What Have We Done So Far?

We've worked hard to make the most of our available funding and have found some ways to secure additional funding. For example, with the help of Act 44 and Act 89, we were able to generate revenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and gas taxes, allowing us to complete nearly 4,000 projects worth more than $10 billion since its passage in 2013. We have more than 500 projects underway worth more than $4.5 billion, and roughly 1,700 projects on our four or 12-year plans. While Act 89 was a significant achievement, it did not meet the needs identified at the time and those needs have grown over time.

See active and planned construction projects at www.projects.penndot.gov.