Transportation Funding - A Win for Greenways

January, 2014

Pennsylvania's New Comprehensive Transportation Funding Package and the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Opportunities

On November 25, 2013 along Route 322 in Spring Mills, Pa ,Governor Tom Corbett signed House Bill 1060-The Comprehensive Transportation Funding Package into law. By the fifth year, the package provides $2.3 to $2.4 billion in new revenue for local and state roads and bridges, mass transit, and multi-modal transportation. The last state transportation funding package was enacted into law in 1997.

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, as an active member of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, advocated for the increase in transportation funding and its greenway-friendly provisions. The word greenway connotes two concepts: green suggest natural amenities – forests, riverbanks, fields; way implies a route or path. Together they describe a vision of natural corridors that providing pathways for walking.

There are several greenway friendly provisions in the package which offer Susquehanna Greenway project partners opportunities to use state transportation funding to help connect people with natural and cultural resources, and promote a sustainable and healthy environment along the Susquehanna. The package sets the stage for working towards an interconnected system of bicycle, pedestrian, and boat access areas and for improved water quality in the river and its tributaries.

The package creates:

  • A multi-modal transportation fund and competitive grant program which will provide $2 million/year for projects relating to streetscape, lighting, sidewalk enhancement, and pedestrian safety.
  • A $30 million/year increase to the Dirt and Gravel Road Program administered through the State Conservation Commission to improve water quality at 14,000 pollution sites identified by the Conservation Districts. Since 1997, the program allocated $75 million to stabilizing dirt and gravel roads and improving water quality at over 2000 pollution sites. The legislation includes a provision to carve out $8 million/year for paving of low volume roads carrying 500 vehicles or less a day.
  • A bridge bundling program to bundle local and state owned bridges for the purpose of cost-effective design and construction. Eligibility for the program will be primarily based on 1) bridges being within geographical proximity to each other and 2) bridges being of similar size and design. Local governments owning bridges that are included in the program will be relieved on any local match requirements.
  • A PA Fish and Boat Commission Oil Company Franchise Tax Rebate for fuel purchased to power motorboats. For the first five years the rebate may only be used for the improvement of high-hazard dams and dredging/clearing in the areas of the dams. After the five year period, the rebate may be used for a broad spectrum of motorboat-related amenities.

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, it is essential that the Susquehanna Greenway Partners play an active role in Metropolitan and Rural Transportation Planning Organization planning and programming to obtain project funding for greenway-supporting projects. Much of the state transportation funding will be allocated through these transportation planing organizations.

As local transportation funding will be allocated through the local municipalities, it is essential to play an active role in transportation planning and programming at the municipal level.

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership in cooperation with the Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations along the river are looking into how to best provide its partners with the information and technical assistance they need to take advantage of the opportunities provided by House Bill 1060. Stay tuned.

On behalf of the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, the staff and Board thank all those partners and friends who actively supported the enactment of the comprehensive transportation funding package.