Friday, May 13, 2011

Study: PA Good at Tracking Transportation Funds

Research suggests Pennsylvania does well in tracking the effects of its transportation investment, except in the area of environmental stewardship.

The Pew Center on the States has released a report evaluating each state’s ability to account for the effectiveness its transportation funding. Thirteen states, including Maryland, ranked in the top category, while Pennsylvania and 18 others achieved “mixed results.” Nineteen states were ranked in the lowest tier.

Pew Director of Research Robert Zahradnik says Pennsylvania did well in five of the six categories – safety, jobs, mobility, access, and preservation. But Zahradnik says the state has room for improvement in tracking the environmental outcomes of transportation investment.

He says the Commonwealth could improve that by emulating other states’ policies.

“Maryland tracks progress in reducing vehicle-miles traveled, and measures reductions in energy consumption by examining the use of hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles,” says Zahradnik. “A state like California has set emission reduction targets for multiple-passenger vehicles, and requires cities to develop strategies to meet those goals.”

Pennsylvania spends $7.6 billion on transportation each year, but according to the state’s Transportation Advisory Committee, that figure is short by about $3.5 billion. The Pew report says states spent a total of about $131 billion on transportation in 2010.

Zahradnik says with such a high level of investment, it’s important that state leaders know how their funding is being used.

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