Several states are considering ways to increase their transportation spending, and so,  we are looking at one positive example of how the transportation construction industry—along with organizations that represent motorists, businesses, and others who rely on highways—helped with the passage of a massive funding measure.

In Pennsylvania last November, Governor Tom Corbett (R) signed into law a five-year, $2.3 billion funding measure to address the Commonwealth’s transportation needs through 2018. The bill will ramp up to an additional $1.65 billion in funding for state roads and bridges for 2017-2018. 

Led by the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, a large contingent of construction industry organizations representing the concrete pavement and asphalt pavement industries; aggregate producers; bridge builders; construction engineers; labor unions; and others, united with a diverse group of people and organizations to educate and persuade legislators of the importance and dire need for this funding to improve the safety and quality of life for all in the Keystone State.

“It was a multi-pronged effort,” explained John Becker, P.E., President of the ACPA Pennsylvania Chapter. He said one of the keys to success was unifying the road and bridge construction industries, as well as bringing the highway user community together to support the effort.

“We also included mass transit, rail, bicycle advocates, and aviation interests in the effort,” Becker said. He added this was important because Pennsylvania has two major urban areas, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which rely heavily on public transportation. “There are many votes that come with support of those modes,” he said.

The funding measure involves gradually removing an artificial cap on fuel tax over a five year period.  It also involves minor changes in vehicle registration and driver licensing fees, as well as changes to traffic violation fines, surcharges, and permits. There also were reforms to local government funding provisions; the establishment of a one-of-a-kind multimodal fund; and several other transportation-related provisions, including several that are specific to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and public transportation.

Becker offered advice to highway construction advocates and others who might be involved in similar funding measures: Engage the highway users and all modes of transportation, he said.

“Remember that buses drive on pavements and bridges, too,” he said, noting that it is especially important to involve other mass transit, trucking, and other transportation modes.