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Smaller transit service funds intact under new Pa. transportation plan

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Under the newly passed Pennsylvania transportation plan, smaller transit services in Allegheny County will get dedicated funding to avoid cuts, PennDOT officials said on Wednesday.

The law, which is expected to raise $2.3 billion annually from increased vehicle-related fees and gasoline taxes by the fifth year, will fund smaller transit services, including the Airport Corridor Transportation Association and Heritage Community Initiatives WorkLink.

Both organizations provide shuttle service from Port Authority routes to job sites: ACTA in the airport corridor, WorkLink in the Mon Valley. Lynn Manion, executive director of ACTA, said PennDOT has provided emergency funding since June after federal dollars dried up.

“It's important for riders that depend on that to get to work. There's 30,000 jobs in an 11 12-mile radius from the stop near Ikea (in Robinson),” Manion said.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch outlined some details of the funding plan on Wednesday. During the first six months of 2014, the new law will raise $321 million and will earmark $186 million for state roads and bridges, $59 million for public transit, $34 million for local roads and bridges, $12 million for turnpike expansion projects, and $30 million for a multi-modal transit like air, sea and rail-related projects. He contends 50,000 jobs will be added and 12,000 jobs will be preserved.

“Right now, we are working on what we're going to be doing next year. You can expect an emphasis on bridges and safety,” Schoch said. “We'll be aggressively getting under way this spring.”

Schoch said a listing of specific projects with start dates would not be finalized until late winter or spring.

Officials have said the Birmingham Bridge connecting the South Side to Uptown is among the first local rehabilitation projects.

Schoch said it's likely that less than 50 percent of the state's highways would host speed limits of 70 mph. PennDOT must conduct a safety analysis in order for a speed limit to be raised, and areas around cities that are 55 mph likely will not change.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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