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Corbett promises transportation plan

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 7:47 p.m.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, center, addresses a crowd assembled for a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday, December 3, 2012 at Wexford Plaza, celebrating road renovations. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Governnor Tom Corbett, left, addresses the crowd assembled for a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating road renovation in McCandless at Wexford Plaza Monday, December 3, 2012. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday he could release his transportation funding proposal in mid-January, though he didn't provide specifics about the plan.

“At this point, everything is on the table. I'm dedicated to finding a long-term solution for transportation that will move through the Legislature,” Corbett said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $21 million project to widen Route 19 in Pine and McCandless.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said lawmakers look forward to reviewing a concrete proposal from the governor.

“One of the things we're hearing from a lot of members is that roads and bridges should be a separate discussion from mass transit,” Turzai said. “There need to be significant reforms to mass transit in any legislation.”

Corbett, a Republican from Shaler, did not say how he would structure a funding package but said $2.7 billion a year is “a good target” for the money he'd like to put toward transportation — the same amount a Corbett-appointed commission on transportation recommended in August 2011.

But, he said, “We have difficult economic times right now and we have to recognize that.”

The commission suggested raising about half the money — $1.4 billion — by lifting the cap on the state's oil franchise tax. That could increase prices at the pump by an estimated 4 cents per gallon. Driver's license and registration fees would go up.

PennDOT is spending $6.1 billion on transportation this fiscal year. Among challenges facing the agency: about one in four bridges is structurally deficient, 20 percent of Pennsylvania's state-maintained roads are in poor condition and transit agencies need money.

Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky, who served on Corbett's transportation commission, said the average motorist would pay $132 more a year if lawmakers agree to all of the commission's recommendations.

“That's not an insignificant amount of money, but I also think if we educated people on how this money would be spent, we could convince a majority of Pennsylvanians that it's a good investment,” Yablonsky said Monday at a Community College of Allegheny County forum on transportation issues.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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