HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) recently met to discuss the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) as well as local-governments’ road and bridge needs and investment options.
According to a PennDOT news release, PennDOT has also committed $455.9 million in liquid fuels payments to help certified municipalities maintain their roads and bridges, approximately 1 percent more than last year.
“We have the fifth-largest state-maintained road system in the country, and the locally owned roadway network is even larger,” PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Planning Larry Shifflet said. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s bridge funding will help with some local bridges, but we need to leverage all available state and local-funding solutions to help our municipalities.”
There are 120,596 miles of public roads in Pennsylvania. Some 2,560 municipalities manage an estimated 78,000 linear miles of roadway and more than 6,600 bridges longer than 20 feet.
“We appreciate that PennDOT recognizes that local government is an important partner of the transportation network in Pennsylvania, being responsible for 2/3 of the road miles in the Commonwealth,” said PSATS Executive Director David Sanko. “This liquid fuels distribution is an integral part of local funding, but by no means enough to cover the costs, of building and maintaining our portion of the network.”
In addition to identifying state transportation needs, Governor Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission outlined that the unmet funding need on locally owned roads and bridges is estimated to be nearly $3.9 billion per year, growing to $5.1 billion annually by 2030. This is in addition to the dedicated local funding municipalities receive from PennDOT through previous legislation and approximately 13.5 percent of annual gas tax revenues.
While Pennsylvania will receive $1.6 billion in new bridge funds – with 15 percent committed to “off-system” local bridges – from the federal BIL, state and locally based solutions are needed. In addition to PennDOT’s annual liquid fuels distribution, grant opportunities, and the BIL benefits, local officials can act on options available to them.
For example, counties can implement a $5 fee for each vehicle registered to an address within the county and use the funds on locally owned infrastructure. To date, 27 counties have implemented this fee. From December 2015 through December 2021, $180.8 million has been collected and distributed to the respective counties.
Additionally, local governments and other eligible entities may apply for low-interest loans from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank which helps fund and accelerate transportation projects as well as spur economic development.
PennDOT’s annual liquid fuels distributions assist with municipalities’ highway and bridge-related expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. There are 73,141 miles owned by municipalities and eligible for liquid fuels. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally-owned roads.
Act 89 of 2013 made more funding available for locally owned roadways. Before the law, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.
To be eligible for liquid fuels, a roadway must be formally adopted as a public street by the municipality, meet certain dimension requirements, and be able to safely accommodate vehicles driving at least 15 mph.
For the complete list of local payments, visit PennDOT’s Municipal Liquid Fuels Program page.
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