Port Authority benefits of Corbett transportation plan touted
Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to boost state transportation funding could put Port Authority of Allegheny County on the most solid financial footing it has had in years and possibly restore lost service and jobs, officials said Wednesday.
“It could move Port Authority away from its own fiscal cliff,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
Corbett's plan, if approved, would provide Port Authority with an extra $9 million in the first year, growing to more than $56 million by the fifth year, based on current funding formulas for transit in Pennsylvania.
That's on top of an annual $30 million boost Corbett and PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch first promised the financially troubled Port Authority last year. The state leaders agreed last summer to provide the boost to help Port Authority close a $64 million deficit and prevent deep service cuts in exchange for worker concessions and some additional local contributions .
“There will be no cut in that $30 million commitment,” Schoch said during a news conference on Wednesday at PennDOT's district headquarters in Collier.
Not counting the $30 million, Port Authority's $372.1 million budget receives $155.6 million in state operating assistance. That's about 22.5 percent of the money Pennsylvania doles out for transit operations, the second-largest share behind Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority. Port Authority is the only agency in Pennsylvania that receives state help beyond its operating subsidy.
When reached by phone, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Steve Palonis said he didn't know the $30 million allocation would be permanent and independent of any money that could come from a new transportation funding plan.
“That would be good news for Port Authority and the people of Allegheny County,” Palonis said.
Corbett's transportation plan, revealed Tuesday, would generate an extra $5.3 billion for transportation funding over five years. Most money would derive from gradual elimination of the cap on a tax gasoline wholesalers pay.
Statewide, Pennsylvania would provide an extra $40 million for transit operations in the first year and an extra $250 million by the fifth, with the current distribution percentages applying, Schoch said.
“We wouldn't be swimming in money, not in any means,” Fitzgerald said. “But there wouldn't be any additional cuts, and we'd be looking at the possibility of restoring service that has been lost in recent rounds of cuts.”
The latest in a series of cuts reduced service 15 percent in 2011.
Schoch, joined at Wednesday's news conference by PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna and Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky, touted Corbett's transportation plan.
Cessna said “hundreds” of local highway and bridge projects depend on the added funding, noting Corbett's plan could enable his PennDOT district to tackle at least 40 more projects a year during the next decade.
Corbett's plan would provide PennDOT an added $300 million for road and bridge projects in the first year and $1.2 billion more annually by the fifth year.
Among them, PennDOT could move forward with plans to rebuild an eight-mile stretch of Interstate 376 near Pittsburgh International Airport, an estimated $87 million project. Cessna said the highway is 22 years old and needs to be rebuilt, not simply repaved.
“We can keep it open and maintained for the next five years. If we're not (rebuilding the highway) there in five years, we've got serious issues,” Cessna said.
Without increased transportation funding, Schoch said, “That project doesn't happen.”
Cessna said other major local projects that depend on increased funding include a projected $34 million project to renovate the Birmingham Bridge and an $18 million project to improve a five-mile stretch of I-376 in Lawrence County. Schoch said PennDOT plans to create a website by March that will list all projects that would be done with extra money in Corbett's plan.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Allegheny County DA investigates school official’s expense reimbursements
- Skeptics voice concern over rapid transit connection between Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland
- Habitat for Humanity to close Edgewood ReStore store, donation center
- Woman drove over, damaged fire hose while going to store, Penn Hills official says
- Pittsburgh officials to hear opinions, answer questions about bus rapid transit project
- Pitt joins Giant Eagle, sets goal to put more disabled on payroll
- Candidates for Allegheny County controller blame each other for 35 percent pay raise
- Duquesne man fatally struck by vehicle in McKeesport
- Pittsburgh Marathon runner remains in critical condition
- Plum Borough officials placed on paid administrative leave
- Baldwin man, cleared in 2 murders, set to stand trial