Federal lawmakers passed a long-awaited new transportation bill earlier this month, giving the green light to some local construction projects.
Repairing stretches of I-95, street paving, shoring up the Chestnut Street Bridge — these are all Philadelphia projects that have been delayed while Congress passed short-term extension after short-term extension to federal transportation funding. For 30 consecutive months, noney was not a sure thing.
“Particularly on really large projects, you’re not going to begin them or you’re not going to begin the next phase of the project unless you’re sure that funding is going to be there,” says Andrew Stober, chief of staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation.
The new bill gives regional transportation planners two years of funding to work with, which means they can start tearing things up — knowing they will have the money to rebuild.
“For PennDOT, projects on I-95 like the Girard Avenue interchange and, right in the city, the Chestnut Street Bridge over CSX can all be sure to proceed now,” says Stober.
He notes that city officials will be sorry to see one grant program go. Competitive TIGER grants, introduced in the federal stimulus spending, went for projects such as the renovation of Dilworth Plaza outside City Hall. The city is eyeing a new federal program, which would provide money towards large projects costing at least $500 million.