March 05, 2016
On the heels of a report that determined Pennsylvania has the second highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the United States – an improvement on the previous year's rock bottom rank – PennDOT this week distributed nearly $445.3 million to certified municipalities as part of the "liquid fuels payments" provided by the state's Act 89 transportation plan.
Philadelphia received $33,462,089.33 in payments, part of an overall 16 percent ($64 million) annual increase in payments through the liquid fuels provision, which covers roadways formally adopted by municipalities as public streets. Those roadways must also meet dimension requirements and safely accommodate drivers at speeds above 15 mph.
“While Pennsylvania has the fifth-largest state-maintained road system in the country, we also have a vast network of locally maintained roads,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. “These funds are essential to communities across the state as they preserve and improve these vital connections to the state highway and bridge network.”
In 2013, prior to Act 89's passage in 2013, Pennsylvania municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments. The boost in funding over the last few years has provided greater flexibility for municipalities to allocate payments for bridge-related expenses, such as snow removal and repaving, and highway improvements.
Earlier this week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney presented his first budget, a $4.7 billion dollar plan that includes $350 million in infrastructure investments, primarily for repairs to city police and fire department buildings, libraries, parks and recreation centers.
How the city projects to use PennDOT's liquid fuels payments is not yet clear, but given Kenney's budget increase of more than $100 million over the previous year, the availability of the funds will extend Philadelphia's freedom to address concerns about local bridges and roadways.
In total, Pennsylvania has 120,039 miles of roads categorized as public, including 72,759 owned by municipalities and eligible for liquid fuels payments. To determine the payments made to each municipality, the program uses a formula based on population and miles of locally-owned roads.