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​Transportation Funding

PennDOT oversees programs and policies affecting highways, urban and rural public transportation, airports, railroads, ports, and waterways. More than three-quarters of PennDOT's annual budget is invested in Pennsylvania's approximately 120,000 miles of state and local highways and 32,000 state and local bridges. PennDOT is directly responsible for nearly 40,000 miles of highway and roughly 25,400 bridges, a system first established in 1911.

This system, which also supports millions of public transportation trips in every Pennsylvania county, administers licensing and vehicle needs, and more, has significant unmet funding needs. PennDOT's latest assessment of its needs gap reflects our annual gap at $9.3 billion today, with the annual gap growing to $14.5 billion by 2030.

Unmet Transportation Funding Needs*

Figures in billions of dollars

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*Numbers rounded and as of Sept. 1, 2020. Full details and figures in our Needs outline (PDF).

How It Works

States, counties, and local governments across the country fund their transportation systems in different ways. This can involve varying uses of state General Fund dollars, driver/vehicle fees, and fuel taxes. Pennsylvania's Motor License Fund is dedicated solely to highway and bridge-related purposes and cannot be used for other expenses like public transportation.

Currently, PennDOT receives approximately 75 percent of its funding from state sources and 25 percent of its funding from federal sources for a total of approximately $9.1 billion in annual funding. In other publications, a total transportation budget of $10.1B is referenced and includes monies towards the Turnpike, State Police, debt service, and other agencies. For the purposes of the graphics below, the discussion is limited to PennDOT funding ($9.1 billion).

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Current PennDOT Funding

Source / Description% of Department BudgetDollar Amount
State Funding
Motor License FundFunded 75% by the Liquid Fuels Tax or "gas tax", 25% through registrations and fees
53%$4.86 billion
Public Transportation Trust FundFunded in large part through the Turnpike payments, also sales tax and lottery fund payments.16%$1.512 billion
Multimodal Transportation FundCreated by Act 89, MTF is dedicated funding for ports, rail, aviation, and bicycle/pedestrian.2%
$153 million
LotteryFunded by PA Lottery proceeds. Dedicated to free and reduced-fare public transportation for Pennsylvanians 65 years and older.2%$171 million
Public Transportation Assistance FundFunded by fees on tires, rental vehicles, and leased vehicles.3%$258 million
Federal Funding
HTF Highway and BridgeFederal Highway Trust Fund dollars allocated for highway and bridge projects.22%$2.022 billion
HTF Public Transportation FundingFederal Highway Trust Fund dollars allocated for public transportation.2%$204 million

More information on revenue sources and uses can be found in our Annual Report under "Financials."

Legislative action was taken in 2016 that capped expenditures from the Motor License Fund going toward the State Police budget beginning with the 2017-18 budget and concluding with the 2027-28 budget, ending an annual $500 million going to State Police.

This uncapping originally made possible a multi-year Road Maintenance and Preservation (Road MaP) initiative (PDF)to increase maintenance investments for the first time since 2006, as well as significantly invest in capital projects and interstate projects. However, those gains have largely been lost due to decreased revenue.

Progress with Increased State Investment

More than half of the projects accelerated or made possible by Act 89 of 2013 are completed or underway.

PennDOT has put out 1,582 bridge projects and 3,505 projects for roadway and other improvement projects worth approximately $13.4 billion since January 2015. See projects happening or planned near you at PennDOT's Project Website.

The public has more ways than ever to see how we're investing resources. You can see active and planned construction projects at www.projects.penndot.gov. We also set up a page with continually updated information on projects and contracts put out, miles improved, and bridge conditions – www.penndot.gov/results.

Pre-existing, Growing Needs

While historic and much-needed, Act 89 of 2013 did not meet the need that was identified by the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission in 2011 (PDF). The report noted that unmet needs would grow to $7.2 billion by 2020, but Act 89 was designed to build to roughly $2.4 billion by its fifth year.

Graph showing that PennDOT'ss funding needs increase with increased cost of aging infrastructure and improved vehicle fuel economy reduces fuel tax revenue

Based on projected revenue, losses from increased fuel efficiency as well as inflation, the growing impacts of climate change, and fiscal management of our large program, we projected $2.2 billion in construction lettings in 2020 compared to $2.5 billion in 2018. Last year was the first time the lettings were below $2.4 billion since Act 89 was passed.

Due to COVID-19 revenue losses, we now anticipate $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion in the 2020 calendar year. Without federal stimulus funds, we will also see impacts in the same range to our calendar year 2021 lettings.

Act 89 anticipated action at the federal level and that has not happened. In reviewing needs on the Interstate system and updating our asset needs, the picture is more dire than shown in the TFAC report.