View Count: 164 |  Publish Date: April 04, 2014
Road improvement projects get started
Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014, 3:01 AM
State road crews are making an aggressive push to repave, rebuild and replace about $500 million in Philadelphia-area roads and bridges this year, state officials said Thursday.
Of the 52 highway projects now getting underway, 18 of them - worth $134 million - are a result of Novembers state increase in transportation funding.
Motorists have begun to feel the pain of the higher gas taxes and increased fees required by the new law, so Gov. Corbett and transportation officials moved Thursday to tout the gains drivers will get for their money.
Among the major projects in Southeastern Pennsylvania: repairing the Spring Garden Street bridge over the Schuylkill; resurfacing City Avenue in Philadelphia and Montgomery County; replacing the Route 213 bridge over Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County; paving stretches of I-95 and I-476 in Delaware County, and resurfacing Route 252 in Chester County.
Also, SEPTA will begin 16 transit projects worth about $200 million this year, repairing and replacing bridges and power stations and improving handicapped accessibility at its stations, said SEPTA assistant general manager Robert Lund.
Statewide, an estimated 18,000 jobs will be created this year by $946 million in added transportation funding, the Corbett administration said Thursday. By the fifth year, when all the tax and fee increases are in effect, 50,000 new jobs will be created and an additional 12,000 jobs will be preserved, the administration said.
The new funding plan couldnt have come at a better time, Lester C. Toaso, PennDot district executive for Southeastern Pennsylvania, said Thursday. Were moving very aggressively to put as many new projects on the street as fast as possible.
In addition, road crews continue to deal with a bumper crop of potholes resulting from the unusually harsh winter. Toaso said 7,000 tons of asphalt have been poured into potholes since December, three times the average amount.
Funding for the new transportation projects comes from Act 89, which will generate an estimated $2.4 billion more in transportation funding by 2018.
A typical driver can expect to pay $22 more this year and $132 more by 2018, according to PennDot. That would amount to a 42-cent-a-week increase this year, and $2.54 a week by 2018.
The new law calls for the state to gradually remove the limit on the wholesale tax on gasoline.
Within five years, if wholesalers pass on the full increase to consumers, that could increase the gas tax by about 28 cents a gallon, from 31.2 cents a gallon in 2013 to 59.2 cents by 2018.
Higher fees and fines for motorists will provide about 18 percent of the additional transportation funding for Pennsylvania. Some of those costs have already gone up; others are scheduled to rise over the next few years.
The cost of a duplicate drivers license, for example, went up Tuesday to $27.50, from $13.50. Some other fees also were increased on Tuesday.
Starting July 1, 2015, the fees for regular drivers licenses and annual vehicle registration will go up $1 a year, and on July 1, 2019, they will increase annually by the amount of inflation.
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