Op-Ed: Driving to a Better Economy by Funding Critical Transportation Projects

Gov. Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) recently unveiled a revenue generation plan that incited significant outrage from Pennsylvanians. The plan would implement a mileage-based user fee of 8.1 cents, double the cost of all vehicle registration fees, establish a $1.10 fee in all deliveries, and increase the cost to lease and rent a vehicle – among other initiatives that would cost people more.

It’s no wonder Pennsylvanians weren’t happy.

Their dissatisfaction made it clear that there has to be a better way to fund necessary transportation projects in the state. One of these important projects is U.S. Rt. 219, right in the 32nd District. By finally finishing the last bit of interstate from Johnstown to the Maryland border, both motorists and the state’s commerce will benefit from improved infrastructure.

At a time when the state’s economy is in desperate need of being energized, we especially need to prioritize important projects like Rt. 219 for completion all over the Commonwealth. Addressing the challenge of transportation funding is paramount.

My colleague, Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-35), unveiled the DRIVE SMART Act, which stands for Delivering Reforms and Investments for Vehicle Efficiency and Supporting Motor carriers, Airports, Rails and trails and Transit agencies. It would reform and invest in the Commonwealth’s roads and bridges, public transportation, airports, passenger rail and active transportation.

The comprehensive plan called for a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act to provide immediate relief for the design and construction of road and bridges, as well as to prioritize innovative federal financing instead of the TROC plan or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s bridge tolling initiative.

Sen. Langerholc is speaking with stakeholders and asking the public to provide feedback, which can be done online by clicking here.

The Senate Transportation Committee will hold more hearings to collect feedback on the DRIVE SMART Act and other ideas to reform and invest in the Commonwealth’s multimodal transportation system.

Figuring out how to pay for substantial purchases, like transportation projects to drive us to a better economy, takes hard work, but we have to have these difficult conversations. It is critically important that we are the best financial stewards possible. Deciding the best way to reform and pay for Pennsylvania’s multimodal transportation system is a task I take extremely seriously.

Pennsylvanians deserve a strong transportation infrastructure to drive the state’s economy to new places – not deteriorating roads and bridges that discourage employers from setting up shop in the Commonwealth. With careful consideration, and compromise, we will be able to pave the way for a brighter future for all.

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