$2.5 billion transportation plan faces rocky road in Pa. House

    The chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee is introducing a plan to hike motorist fees and some traffic ticket surcharges to help come up with $2.5 billion for transportation infrastructure.

    The measure, introduced Tuesday, marks the first legislative follow-up to the governor’s $1.8 billion funding plan, which many in industry and the Legislature say is too small.

    But Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is giving Gov. Tom Corbett credit for taking the first step to roll out a funding proposal.

    “We’ve used that as the base for our plan,” Rafferty said. “We recognize the need to do a little bit more in the way of transportation funding to meet the needs of the commonwealth going forward.”

    The bill aims to generate funds to repair old bridges, expand road capacity, maintain ports and railways, as well as plan for bicycle lanes.

    The legislation appears poised for smooth passage in the Senate, but some House Republicans already are  warning it’ll be much more difficult to wrangle votes from their members on a bill that could increase costs for motorists.

    The big money-raisers proposed include uncapping the cap on a gas tax paid by gas stations over a shorter period of time than the Corbett administration proposed, as well as adding surcharges to moving violations and increasing the fees for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.

    State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch says the proposal would cost about $2.60 a week more to the average driver in the commonwealth by the third year of implementation.

    The Corbett administration isn’t yet endorsing the Senate proposal, Schoch said, but he applauds the effort and estimates the added cost to motorists will be similar to what a governor-appointed commission suggested years ago.

    Rafferty says he doesn’t see a need to hold hearings on his proposal and hopes to schedule a committee vote to advance it in the Legislature within the next few weeks.

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