Budget constraints and a bleak economic forecast are forcing Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania to consider new ways to fund improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure. The Governor’s advisory commission estimates that $2.7 billion is needed to bring the system to a state of good repair.
To fund these projects, the administration is considering a number of options, including raising vehicle registration fees, using a portion of the state’s sales tax for public transit programs, and uncapping the gas tax. Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch estimates that the average driver spends $30 a month on gas taxes and vehicle fees. “Frankly, we need to increase [these] monthly costs for our infrastructure,” he said. In this economic climate, though, the governor and others in Harrisburg are cautious about how these policies might affect the state’s budget.
One unexpected source of funds could come from using the Marcellus Shale resource – a largely untapped source of natural gas in the northeastern United States. According to Schoch, royalty payments from gas wells located on state-owned lands could generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually to be used for infrastructure repairs. In addition to these funds paid to the state for natural gas, local impact fees from shale mining could be used to fund improvements to deficient local roads. For more, see the article from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.