Budget shortfall, PennDOT facing halt to major projects

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DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s no hesitation when it comes to complaining about things like potholes around NEPA. You can only imagine what’s going to happen if improvements to our roads and bridges is held as PennDOT and elected officials work to keep projects going.

The matter hitting a major warning tone at recent budget meetings. Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian is sounding the alarm to state legislators that with losses from the gas tax, tolls and regular means of revenue, hundreds of projects across the commonwealth could come to a screeching halt today. Fingers are being pointed around Harrisburg as we stare down road and bridge maintenance coming to a standstill.

“How did this happen? It seems almost incomprehensible that nobody blew the whistle and said ‘we’re gonna need this money, and we’re gonna need it drastically,” said State Representitive for the 26th District, Tim Hennessey (R).

“We’ve been sounding the alarm on this issue for many months,” said Gramian. “Traffic volumes are coming back but not at the pre-pandemic levels. And regardless, that revenue is gone for good.”

Especially in places like the Lehigh Valley and right here in Northeast Pennsylvania, those hundreds of millions of dollars are going to impact hundreds of thousands of people hitting the roads and whose livelihoods are working on them. Reaching out to PennDOT, they offered a statement:

“PennDOT has made no secret of the fact that its current revenue streams – particularly revenues from gas tax, which make up 74% of PennDOT’s highway and bridge funding – were not sufficient to support Pennsylvania’s vast network of roads and bridges,” it read, in part. “COVID-19 has only made things worse, and since the pandemic began penndot lost nearly $400 million and is expected to lose $600 million through June 2021.”

While there has been no definitive action to continue projects, the governor’s office says they’ve agreed to explore short term solutions until that $600 million in loans or other funding can be secured.

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