Thursday, June 2, 2011

PennDOT Sec: Gas Tax Hike Not Being Considered

The head of a panel designed to find ways to fund repairs to the state's roads and bridges says tolling could be the most reliable way to go.
PennDOT's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission will hear a presentation Monday on the possibility of tolling Route 422 in Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties.
The 30-member commission set up by Governor Tom Corbett looks for ways to pay for transportation improvements across the state.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch says tolling would provide a steady stream of income, but can't be used on many busy highways...

“Tolling certainly is mileage-based. It doesn't matter whether your car is electric, fuel cell, or gasoline or diesel. It all gets charged the same way. So that's a possibility in the future, but there are federal laws that restrict that, especially on our interstate systems, so unless they change that won't be a part of the immediate future.”

Schoch says the commission is examining tolls because other sources of funding, like gas taxes, are shrinking...

“If you owned a car in the 1970s chances are it got less than 15 miles-per-gallon. Today you probably get around 30 miles-per-gallon. So, you travel the same amount of miles per year, but you buy half as much gas as you did back in the 70s, and that's a large chunk of how we get our revenue to build the roads and bridges.”

Shoch says the commission is looking for plans that will generate two-and-a-half million dollars in recurring revenue over four or five years. He says the commission has been instructed not to look at increasing the gas tax. But if nothing is done to find more money, he says the department may have to close bridges and roadways as they fall into serious disrepair