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Congressman proposes plan to address Pennsylvania's transportation funding deficit


Yesterday, Rep. Rick Geist (R-Pa.), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, announced a package of legislative proposals designed to address Pennsylvania’s more than $2 billion-a-year transportation funding shortfall.

The proposals come on the heels of the Federal Highway Administration’s rejection of a plan to turn Pennsylvania’s portion of Interstate 80 into a toll road. The plan was expected to generate money that would help fund the state’s public transit agencies.

Geist’s 11 proposals call for:

•    Enabling Pennsylvania to partner with the private sector to help rebuild the state’s transportation infrastructure;

•    Phasing out the use of the motor license fund to pay for the state police operating budget;

•    Using a design-build delivery system for construction projects to minimize project risk and expedite the process;

•    Tolling Interstate 95 to free up funding used for rehabilitating the roadway;

•    Extending the current level of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s annual payments to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation;

•    Increasing government oversight by having the House of Representatives appoint two turnpike commissioners;

•    Launching a pilot program to contract out the maintenance of Pennsylvania’s highways;

•    Adjusting the percentage and ceiling of the oil company franchise tax;

•    Increasing the local transit match to 25 percent;

•    Adding local tax options; and

•    Studying the possibility of a vehicle miles traveled tax.

“This is no time for the use of halfway measures,” said Geist in a prepared statement. “We need to stop the trend of trying to pound a square peg into a round hole and build public policy that will stand the test of time, weather a changing economy and provide our residents with a system that they can take pride in, and that will become a national model.”