Pa. Senate highways plan would increase spending by 50%

A wholesale gas tax would provide additional funds

Posted: 1:49 PM EDT Apr 16, 2013
Route 378

Pennsylvania's Senate Transportation Committee chairman is releasing a plan to increase spending on highways and mass transit by about 50 percent a year, primarily by raising a wholesale gas tax.

The plan Sen. John Rafferty's releasing Tuesday follows Gov. Tom Corbett's more modest plan proposed in January.

The Montgomery County Republican has said he envisioned raising between $2.5 billion and $2.8 billion a year for transportation, including highways, bridges, airports, mass transit, ports, rail freight and walking and biking routes.

Key Senate Democrats are expected to support it. However, it could have rough sledding in the more conservative House of Representatives.

The Department of Transportation says repairs are needed to 20 percent of the state-maintained highways and state-owned bridges. Meanwhile, the state's public transit agencies routinely battle budget deficits.

Here are some details of how approximately $2.5 billion in money from tax and fee increases would be divided up in its fifth year, when the plan is fully phased in:

— Approximately $1.9 billion for state and local highways and bridges.

— Approximately $510 million for Pennsylvania's 36 urban and rural transit agencies.

— Approximately $115 million for railways, airports, ports and bicycle and pedestrian programs.