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6/6/2013 | Construction Blog

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1, a $2.5 billion transportation-funding bill. The bill may increase construction opportunities within the state, but its fate remains uncertain since some are concerned about the unknown increased cost to motorists and businesses with fleets of vehicles.

bridge-construction-thumb-2592x1944-20982The legislation seeks to pour additional funding of approximately $1.9 billion a year into highways and bridges, $500 million into mass transit including funding clean energy, and the remainder into airports, ports, rail freight and pedestrian/bike routes. While the majority of the spending appears to be dedicated to infrastructure improvements, the bill dedicates millions of dollars to reducing the cost of public transportation for the disabled, providing grant money for the conversion of mass transit fleets to alternative fuel sources, and other such expenditures.

The plan proposes to fund all of the above initiatives by increasing costs to motorists. Specifically, it provides for an increase in fees for driver and commercial driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, increased fees and penalties for special hauling permits, a substantial increase in fines for traffic violations, and numerous other added or increased fees as described in the 111 page legislation. The bill would also raise revenue by removing the cap on and increasing the average wholesale price per gallon of all taxable liquid fuels and fuels, but slightly lowers the flat-tax imposed by the State.

pennsylvania-state-senator-john-rafferty-thumb-190x150-20983Although the bill passed the Senate on a 45-5 vote, it is uncertain whether it will pass the House of Representatives given the high cost to taxpayers appears at a time where many are closely watching their wallet.

Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery) is the prime sponsor of the legislation, which was supported by many Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.