Local leaders optimistic on transportation funding

While the effects of the recently authorized state transportation bill aren’t fully clear, there is some optimism among local officials that provisions of the bill, HB 1060, could help Warren County.

During the Wednesday night meeting of the Warren County Council of Governments, municipal officials discussed the measure.

Clarendon Borough Council President Paul Pascuzzi said that, in the bill, there is some “information that might help local municipalities in Warren County for a change.”

County Planner Dan Glotz said that “they bumped the prevailing wage from $25,000 to $100,000 for road projects.”

Prevailing wage is the rate that municipalities are required to pay per hour for projects that exceed a specific amount.

While he was unsure how significant that change would be, Glotz said that he “thinks everyone wanted to see that higher.”

He also explained a provision of the law called bridge bundling. That will entail the state examining a number of bridges of the same size and doing one design and then bidding the construction as a package. PennDOT “would order the materials in bulk and bid it in bulk,” said Glotz. “The determination as to the bridge that will qualify will be made by PennDOT. I provide them with a ranking of the projects we have here based on structural integrity.” The hope is that designing, buying and constructing in bulk could save money.

Additional clarity on this component of the bill is needed. “They talk (about) a rotating basis but I’m trying to get clarification on what that means. The bundling program was a pilot program done in three counties… and there was no cost to the municipalities to participate,” Glotz added.

He noted that a summary of the bill provided by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania indicated that liquid fuels funding will be increased to municipalities.

The gas tax, which will be a total increase of $.28 phased over several years, was also discussed.

Officials lamented the fact that a majority of the funding appears to be headed to the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

“Phili gets the money because they lobby,” said Pascuzzi.

Mead Township Supervisor Al Fox suggesting that the funding heads to those areas “because there aren’t enough of us.”

“The part I don’t like, the money created by vehicles does not stay in that fund,” said Sugar Grove Borough Mayor Dutch Strand.

Glotz suggested that, with cars getting better gas mileage and some people driving hybrid and electric cars, a more fair way to tax vehicles would be to do so by miles driven per year. That would “level the playing field,” he said.