With scant funding available, Philly-area infrastructure needs billions worth of work

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission says the region’s infrastructure needs a rescue.

A new report stages three funding scenarios, concluding that in the best of them the region will have hard choices to make about infrastructure priorities.

Planner Mike Boyer says he’s rarely surprised by anything about the state of the region’s infrastructure. But he said he was taken aback by the difference between likely available funding and the amount needed for maintenance and repairs.

“When you’re just looking at bridges and the roads, we’ve identified about $77 billion of need over the next 27 years, until the year 2040,” he said.

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One of the most pressing challenges will be finding the money to repair I-95, which Boyer says could run as much as $22 billion — the cost of Boston’s Big Dig, the country’s most expensive highway project of all time.

Boyer says the high cost is due to the highway’s construction.

“Throughout Philadelphia, it’s mostly a viaduct, which means it’s a giant bridge,” he said. “It’s much more expensive to maintain and preserve and rebuild than if it was just your typical roadway.”

The commission is also launching an online tool allowing citizens to choose their priorities. However, when it comes time to pay for the projects, whether it’s a higher gas tax or payment per mile, users have to make a choice.

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