Gov. Ed Rendell's proclamation calling the Legislature into special session on Monday to deal with the looming transportation funding crisis doesn't offer much in the way of comforting reading:
Whereas, in November 2006 the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission’s report on the Commonwealth’s transportation system funding needs established that $1.7 billion in new revenue annually was necessary to ensure the safe and reliable operation of all components of the Pennsylvania transportation system including highways, bridges and public transit systems; and
Whereas Pennsylvania already leads the nation in the number of structurally deficient bridges, with 5,646 and the number of Pennsylvania’s state-owned structurally deficient bridges is greater than the number of structurally deficient bridges in the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland combined.
Whereas Pennsylvania’s state maintained roads have more than 7,000 miles of pavement in very poor condition, and a total of 10,000 miles of roadway where the regular and necessary resurfacing is significantly behind schedule; and
Whereas, the state highway and bridge system now has a backlog of $2.576 billion in unfunded needs; and
Whereas Pennsylvania’s 38 transit systems have $484 million in capital improvements and repairs for 2010-11, which must be addressed to ensure buses, rail cars, and trolleys are kept in a state of good repair; and
Whereas, the curtailment of rail lines because of deteriorated bridges threatens service and has the potential to force more riders into their vehicles and worsen already severe congestion, which in the state’s largest metro area already costs $786 per year for each peak-hour traveler, forces the consumption of an extra 71 million gallons of fuel a year, and means commuters spend an extra 38 hours on congested roadways; and,
Whereas, in July, 2007, Act 44 was enacted with bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to provide for additional revenue of $950,000,000 annually on average during the first ten years of fifty years to make improvements to Pennsylvania’s transportation system; and
Whereas, Act 44 provided for this level of funding by enabling the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to impose toll increases on the Pennsylvania Turnpike system and by authorizing the Commission to submit an application to the United States Department of Transportation requesting permission to convert the Pennsylvania portion of Interstate 80 to a toll road; and
Whereas, Act 44 includes contingent language that relieves the Turnpike Commission of its obligation to make a portion of its payments to the Commonwealth if the United States Department of Transportation fails to approve this application; and
Whereas, Act 44 did not provide for a substitute revenue source to replace the proceeds from the anticipated tolling of Interstate 80 if federal approval was not obtained; and
Whereas on April 6, 2010, the Federal Highway Administration made its final determination and rejected the Commission’s application to toll Interstate 80; and
Whereas, as a result of this federal decision, $60 billion over the life of Act 44 that would have been available for improvements to the state’s transportation system will not be available to the Commonwealth; and
Whereas, as a result of this federal decision the Commonwealth immediately needs to replace $472 million in transportation system improvement funds in Fiscal Year 2010/2011 or forgo making significant bridge, road and transit capital improvements and reduce the incremental increases in transit operating subsidies provided for in that fiscal year; and
Whereas if no additional funds are provided to replace these funds, over the next four years, a full 12% percent of all of our roads in need of repair will not be improved, affecting the on-road trips of thousands who travel 4.7 million miles on these roads and highways every day. At least 450 bridges will not be repaired, affecting the safe or convenient passage by thousands of travelers who amass more than 443,000 miles on these structures daily. At least $927 million in transit capital projects will not commence, affecting the safe and convenient passage by tens of thousands of passengers who make more than 40 million trips on mass transit systems annually in the Commonwealth; now, therefore,
By virtue of the authority vested in me by Article II, Section 4; Article IV, Section 12; and Article III, Section 12, of the Constitution, I, Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby convene the General Assembly in special and extraordinary session, to meet in the Capitol at Harrisburg, on May 3, 2010, in order to address immediate and future transportation needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
GIVEN, under my hand and the great seal of the state, at the city of Harrisburg on this April 28, 2010 in the year of our Lord two thousand and ten and of the Commonwealth the two hundred and thirty-four.
Edward G. Rendell, Governor