Pennsylvania will benefit from a new target of funding in the federal stimulus package approved Monday: state departments of transportation, where financially beleaguered PennDOT is expected to receive $410.1 million.
That’s according to an analysis of the $10 billion allocation in the stimulus package by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials using the federal Department of Transportation’s formula. The association lobbied hard for Congress to include transportation departments, which have lost hundreds of millions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic because their funding is largely related to traffic volume.
In Pennsylvania, where gasoline taxes make up a big share of funding for road and highway projects, the state has estimated a revenue shortfall of $500 million to $600 million since the pandemic began in March. At the beginning of December, the department said it was out of cash and threatened to shut down hundreds of ongoing construction projects and delay new projects unless it received permission to borrow $600 million.
When the Legislature balked because of the short notice, Gov. Tom Wolf agreed to shift money to fund ongoing projects until lawmakers can deal with the issue early next year. But dozens of projects that were expected to start in the next few months have been delayed.
In a statement, PennDOT said it was reviewing the stimulus funding to determine what it will mean for the state.
“Additional federal investment in our transportation system is much needed, especially with our short- and long-term funding challenges. The details of the package will be critical to determine if immediate relief is provided for our COVID-19-related revenue impacts and what action may still be required from the state Legislature in their new legislative session.”