Gov. Tom Corbett's remark last week that he might be able to address Pennsylvania's transportation funding shortage by the "end of the calendar year" seemed to suggest that the governor does not think he can get the Legislature to act on revenue-raising bills before the November elections.
With Port Authority's record-breaking service cuts due to take effect Sept. 2 and no prospect for a state solution by then, does that mean the cuts are inevitable?
Just about everyone involved in the issue now acknowledges that filling the authority's $64 million budget hole and finding a permanent cure for its chronic financial problems is a three-part endeavor, with the state representing only one piece. Allegheny County will have to increase its contributions and the authority must extract savings in its ongoing union contract talks.
The drink tax, which helps to fund the county's match of the authority's state funding (but was NOT new money for the transit agency), started at 10 percent and was quickly lowered to 7 percent because it was generating more than what was needed for the match. If the county restored it to 10 percent and gave the additional revenue to Port Authority, that's about $15 million of the hole filled.
Union leadership has demanded that the state pony up before it will agree to a contract. That's understandable but probably not realistic, as the contract expires in June. If contract concessions push a few more million into the till, the authority board conceivably could postpone the service cuts for a few months while waiting for the state to throw in.
Even if the cuts happen as scheduled, it will be essential for all parties to arrive at a solution that gives the transit agency a reliable, growing funding stream. Otherwise, more cuts will be just around the corner.
Meanwhile, another flurry of dispatches emanates from Washington about whether Congress will finally act on a long-term transportation funding authorization bill to replace the one that expired in 2009. And this story explains that while your federal and state lawmakers dawdle in raising needed transportation funding out of fear of voter backlash, we are paying big-time for vehicle damage and other costs of driving on substandard roads.
On the traffic front, Route 28 will be closed inbound at the 40th Street Bridge for the next two nights. The closures begin at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday with traffic detoured across the bridge so that crews can work on overhead signage and a message board. The highway reopens at 5 a.m.
Running/attending the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday? The Post-Gazette in cooperation with the marathon will be live-tweeting traffic and parking conditions leading up to the 7:30 a.m. start time. Just follow @pgtraffic and make sure you don't "hit the wall" before you reach the starting line.
The single-lane patterns on the 40th Street Bridge approaching Route 28 will remain in place through May 9, PennDOT announced. All ramps and turns are permitted. Police are directing traffic during the evening rush. Crews are replacing and improving sidewalks, curb ramps and barrier. Pedestrians are required to use the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge. The sidewalk on the north side is closed.