As Pa. budget remains unresolved, PennDOT repairs still pending

    The head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation says budget negotiations have to be a little bit further along before the Gov. Tom Corbett can commit to a plan to generate more money for Pennsylvania’s aging roads and bridges.

    “I don’t think there’s a definite time frame to it. It’s just that I think the focus is going to be on the general fund,” said Barry Schoch, PennDOT chief.

    Some of the bigger line items in the more than $27 billion state budget must be decided before any other large-scale plan.

    And billions of dollars are needed to start addressing some infrastructure concerns.

    During his gubernatorial campaign, Corbett promised he wouldn’t raise taxes. But Schoch said decisions about the commonwealth’s infrastructure won’t hinge on that alone.

    “You know the governor, certainly, you know, his campaign took its pledge, but he also took a pledge to do the right thing for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he said.

    One possible source of funding, Schoch said, would be reformulating the gas tax by tying it to wholesale gas prices.

    “That idea is not dead,” he said Monday. “It’s one of many that we’re still looking at relative to how we do this in a way that doesn’t hurt the economy, and yet provides the long-term growth that we need.”

    Schoch isn’t just waiting on Pennsylvania lawmakers. He said PennDOT is also waiting to see how Congress extends a federal program that funds state transportation projects.

    While short-term extensions have become the norm, Schoch said he’s hoping for a long-term guaranteed solution, so the state can count on federal funding for transportation projects that take years to complete.

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