Pennsylvania municipalities to get more road repair money from liquid fuels payments
State money intended to rebuild local roads instead will help refill empty salt domes as many municipalities across Pennsylvania contend with the costs of a harsh winter.
A recently passed state transportation funding plan provided an extra $25 million in liquid fuels payments to municipalities for a total of $345 million statewide.
David Sanko, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, said the additional road funding will be used by many communities to help offset costs of salt, snow removal and pothole repairs come spring.
“Ideally, it was intended, when passed, that it would enable communities to do more road maintenance,” Sanko said. “But the climate has really put an extra burden on us this year.”
The $2.3 billion transportation funding bill passed in November raises most of its revenue over five years by uncapping a wholesale tax on gasoline. While about half the money is directed toward 40,000 miles of state-owned roads and 25,000 bridges, a portion is sent to municipalities to pay for construction, maintenance or repairs on 78,000 miles of locally owned roads.
Cities, townships and boroughs receive liquid fuels payments based on population and road miles. Payments range from the low thousands for small boroughs to $6.2 million for Pittsburgh, and nearly $26 million in Philadelphia.
“Given the extraordinarily harsh winter we've had, I think it's almost as though the legislators, in providing this funding, were somewhat psychic,” Sanko said.
Pittsburgh will receive an increase of about $450,000. Guy Costa, chief operations officer, said the city is running $1.2 million over budget on snow removal operations.
Steady snowfall on Sunday pushed totals recorded by the National Weather Service office in Moon past 60 inches for the season, about 20 inches past typical years.
“We need all the help we can get, especially after the past couple of days,” Costa said. “This extra money would have to go to help cover the additional expenditures we've had because of the rough winter.”
The state allocated Aspinwall about $55,000, which includes a $4,000 increase. Dawn Celender, assistant borough manager, said the borough traditionally uses its state funds to cover salt purchases and streetlight electricity bills.
Ross will receive about $666,000 from the state this year, an increase of around $48,000. Township Manager Doug Sample said in a good year, the money would cover salt purchases and some streetlight costs.
Not this year, he said. The salt budget usually hovers around $650,000 to $700,000, and the township is likely to need more to cover its 140 miles of roads.
Though the increase doesn't mean new pavement, Sample said the funds are welcome.
“I'm glad the Legislature is finally looking at our infrastructure and the need to reinvest and put dollars towards that,” he said.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.