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Gas tax increase: what we've gotten for $22

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

We’ll start with the bad news. If you’re a typical driver (defined as going 12,000 miles per year in a 20 mpg vehicle), you’ve spent about $22 more so far this year than if the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett hadn’t recalibrated the wholesale gasoline tax, adding 9.5 cents to the price of a gallon.

That’s assuming no change in your driving habits. Joe Typical will have used about 233 gallons so far this year. Had he reduced that consumption by 6 gallons, he would have offset the cost of the higher tax.

Based on data from GasBuddy.com, our typical guy has spent about $850 on gasoline so far this year. The higher tax makes up 2.6 percent of the total expenditure.

So that’s the bad news. Unless we tightened up our driving habits, we’re out $22.

That $22 is the biggest impact so far of Act 89, the transportation funding bill that lawmakers and the governor OK’d in November.

What has it bought us?

For openers, here’s an account of the roads in Allegheny County that PennDOT will be able to pave this year that otherwise would have gone untouched.

Statewide, a single PennDOT program, a public-private partnership to replace deteriorated bridges, will be able to do 200 more bridges in the next few years -- details here. PennDOT also will move up needed major rehab projects on the Liberty and Birmingham bridges.

For Port Authority transit riders, it is helping to pay for no fare increase and no service cuts for at least two years, as reported here.

For customers of the RideACTA and Heritage WorkLink bus service, free transportation that helps working people get to their jobs, it means they keep their service, and for many, their jobs. That story’s here.

For blue-collar highway construction workers, according to a survey by Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, it means a turnaround in an industry that “was experiencing a substantial decline.”

According to the survey, before Act 89, 60 percent of highway construction employers had reduced their blue-collar workforce, 63 percent of highway contractors had reduced the number of hours worked by the employees who did not lose their jobs, and 75 percent of blue-collar wages were either reduced or stayed the same.

With the passage of the transportation bill, 84 percent of construction employers expect to hire more blue-collar workers in the next three years; 90 percent of construction employers say they will increase blue-collar wages; and 70 percent of construction employers plan investments in equipment, plants and machinery, generating more private sector jobs.

That $22 is not the end of what the typical driver will pay. By year’s end, the higher tax will cost another $35. The law will add another 9.7 cents per gallon next January and at least 8 cents two years after that. As the costs grow, so will lists like the one above.

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Most removable road construction will be on holiday this weekend, including Pennsylvania Turnpike restrictions. But two projects on Interstate 79 north of Pittsburgh will continue to limit traffic to one lane in both directions, with big backups likely during peak travel times. One is the bridge replacement at Route 422 (mile 99); the other is the repair work on two bridges north of Zelienople (mile 91) that were hit by a truck.

Some survival tips are here.

Also, Interstate 80 has single-lane traffic in both directions between Exits 90 and 97 in Clearfield and Jefferson counties.

i80map

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