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There is no question that Pennsylvania needs sustainable infrastructure funding. While traffic and freight travel have grown, the funds available to maintain the interstate system have not kept pace due to shrinking gas tax revenues and a lack of federal investment. Put simply, we have investment needs that exceed our current funding, and this gap gets worse every year.
Annual Funding Gap
Today, we have an annual funding gap of
If unaddressed, in 10 years, this gap will grow to
For highways and bridges alone, we have an annual funding gap of $8.1 million to fund our very large network:
But when you consider that we are also responsible for airports, railroads, public transit, ports, and waterways, that annual gap grows to $9.4 billion.
Over 40,000 miles of highways
Over 25,000 bridges to maintain
Pennsylvania has the fifth-largest state-maintained road system and the third-largest state-maintained system of bridges in the nation. The commonwealth's system is far larger than any of our surrounding states and, in fact, is comparable in size to the state-maintained road systems of New York, New Jersey, and all of the New England states combined.
Transportation funding in Pennsylvania comes from both Federal and State sources, primarily gas taxes and driver and vehicle fees. However, Pennsylvania's transportation funding shortfall is growing and projects to improve the system are being postponed so that we can fund essential maintenance. For example, funds have been shifted away from regional and local improvements in order to maintain the aging infrastructure of interstate highways and bridges.
PennDOT Total Revenue (In Millions)
|Approximate FY18-19 funding sources
|License and Fees
|Sales and/or Use Tax
|General Fund, Bonds, Interest
So where does the revenue go?
PennDOT's revenue is generally split between three uses: highways and bridges, multimodal transportation (transit, airport, port, freight, etc.), and debt service and other agencies.
62 percent of that revenue goes to highway and bridge maintenance and improvements.
Let's break that down a little more. While revenue does come from other sources, like driver and vehicle fees, 74 percent of our funding comes from the gas tax. We are dependent on the gas tax. So why does this matter?
of highway and bridge funding comes from the Gas Tax
The good news...
people are using less gas. Fuel efficiency is great for the environment and our pockets.
The bad news...
people are using less gas, which means we are collecting less revenue.
But that isn't the only 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 the gas tax. And now, during a global pandemic, we have new challenges that change the way people use our system.
Lower Revenue From the Gas Tax
Unpredictable Federal Funding
So what do we do?
Recognizing the need to explore all funding options, in the winter of 2020, PennDOT will embark on an extensive program that will examine possible near and long-term solutions — and how these funding streams could potentially work in Pennsylvania. Our priority right now, however, is a near-term solution to be put into action in the next couple of years.
As we evaluate potential funding solutions, a dialogue with Pennsylvanians is critical. We are committed to engaging Commonwealth residents and stakeholders at critical decision milestones throughout the process.