Share This Page

Funding roads: Dubious equation

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development say rural areas should be willing to fund urban mass transit because urban areas fund so much rural road work. But that notion is no fit basis for Pennsylvania transportation funding policy.

These mass-transit cheerleaders cite feet of state-funded roads per resident: 142 in Pennsylvania's five least populous counties, versus just 5 in the five most populous counties. But the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy calls this “a superficial evaluation.”

That's because PennDOT distributes road money based not just on miles, but on usage. Bearing two-thirds of daily vehicle miles traveled, having more interchanges, overpasses, bridges and tunnels, and carrying more heavier, road-damaging trucks, urban roads need more work more often — and more funding — than rural roads.

That “superficial evaluation” also ignores an important principle: “Those who benefit the most from a service should pay the most for it.” Rather than expecting state taxpayers to cover ever-greater state subsidies, communities should ask voters to approve broad-based local taxes to fund mass transit.

The Allegheny Institute says the Pittsburgh Chamber and Allegheny Conference need “a lot more research” to make “any claim of who is subsidizing whose roads” persuasive. So do state lawmakers who would base new transportation funding on their “superficial evaluation.”

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.