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Auditor general: Road repair money going to state police

Published April 25. 2019 04:09PM

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said his new audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows the agency could be further along in repairing rough highways and fixing 2,829 structurally deficient bridges with the billions of dollars it has been forced to pay to state police.

DePasquale said transfers from the Motor License Fund to State Police have totaled more than $4.25 billion since the 2012-13 fiscal year, money that PennDOT could otherwise have used to address a growing list of needed repairs across the state.

“More than 2,800 state-maintained bridges across Pennsylvania are structurally deficient and our bridges average over 50 years in age – beyond what they were designed to last,” DePasquale said. “That $4.25 billion could have cut that list in half and if PennDOT could use all of the gas tax money for roads and bridges we could get that number to zero in about five years.”

Locally, DePasquale said, PennDOT could speed up rehabilitation of 2.6 miles of Route 611 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Monroe County that has been identified as the “missing link” connector for the Liberty Trail. The $30 million project is not set to begin preliminary engineering work until 2024.

Under the state constitution, proceeds from the Motor License Fund are to be used solely for the construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of and safety on public highways and bridges.

“There’s a whopping 57.6 cents of state tax added to each gallon of gas sold in Pennsylvania,” DePasquale said, noting that adds $5.76 to the cost of every 10 gallons of gas put in the tank. “Pennsylvanians are frustrated that our roads and bridges still need so much help at the same time we are paying the highest gas tax in the United States.”

The General Assembly did act to phase in a cap on the amount of money going to State Police from the Motor License Fund. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, State Police received $789,580,000 from the fund.

“The nearly $800 million that came out of the fund in one year could have helped PennDOT make a significant dent in the list of urgent needs across Pennsylvania,” he added. “While state police certainly deserve to be adequately funded, I don’t think anyone is thrilled about seeing gas tax revenues being siphoned off for purposes other than improving our roads and bridges.”

DePasquale applauded PennDOT for its aggressive efforts to address the list of structurally deficient bridges, which peaked at 6,034 in 2008. He spoke near Harrisburg’s Market Street Bridge, the western span of which is rated as structurally deficient and carries approximately 13,000 vehicles per day. The bridge was built in 1928.

The audit also examined how funds are awarded through the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund, which PennDOT administers with the help of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Funds are awarded at the governor’s discretion for transportation projects associated with economic development opportunities.

During the audit period, between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2017, PennDOT indicated the governor approved TIIF monies for 27 projects totaling almost $65.2 million as follows:

“While these may have been very worthwhile projects, my audit team was unable to find detailed documentation explaining how and why they were selected to receive funding,” DePasquale said. “I recommend that this program be revised to work like a competitive grant program and steps should be taken to ensure all regions of the state have an equal chance to receive funds.”

The audit also recommends that PennDOT speed up the grant cycle for funds awarded through the Multimodal Transportation Fund, which was created to help communities pay for projects that promote pedestrian safety and transit revitalization. DePasquale said making such a change would add more transparency to the grant process and eliminate confusion about how much grant money is available.

In addition, the audit said PennDOT’s purchasing card process is generally in compliance with the state’s procurement code but recommends the agency continue to improve its internal controls to minimize errors and mitigate the risks of fraud or abuse.

“I want to commend PennDOT for tightening up its internal controls, which are significantly better than they were in decades past,” DePasquale added.

Visit www.paauditor.gov to review the performance audit for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or learn more about the Department of the Auditor General.

Comments
Lace Curtain Corbett's legacy., Deviant Republican lies. Raised the gas tax under the guise of road and bridge improvements. Typical thieving conservoqueers.
We could save as much as 30% on construction projects, if we would get rid of prevailing wage law. As for the State Police? There are many great officers, but they can retire after only 20 years service. We're retiring good healthy officers at 45 years of age, and we pay them pension for life! The PSP are great folks, but they're not that great. Do you know what they do after they retire? Work another Government job and get a second fat pension. This public service pension program is breaking us all, even the bridges.
And you thought they were going to fix the roads and bridges with the highest state gasoline tax in the nation.Just like you thought gambling would elimination or lower your property tax.
BTW I got this bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell to you rubes
95% of politicians are liars, corrupt and don't care about the people. They care about controlling us, taxing us, regulating our lives and how they can take even more money from us, fooling us and keeping us under control. That's why all the money is going to the state police, to arm and outfit them to make sure that they can make more money for the state and fine/imprison even more people. Like the license plate scanners. They don't even have to look at you or lift a finger and yet they can pull u over for whatever it is that pops up and take even more money that isnt gonna go to fixing the roads. Craters, potholes, huge dips and bumps on every damn road so a person can barely drive straight and then the cops r pulling everyone over trying to hand out DUI'S like candy. The tax the hell out of us on anything they can, charge us for every permit, license, registration and any other fees they can dream up and even tho the state police are already part of the annual state budget they are using even more money for them instead of fixing the worst roads in the country. Bullshit
I hear you exo.
It's important to have a ready and willing State Police, who can quickly process the small stuff like traffic violations, so they can spend more time on greater things. We need the Police on our side (the people). I think DUI's need to be given to anyone who is behind the wheel, even after two beers... but I hate alcohol and recreational drug use, because of what it is doing to our society.
I am a member of the TEA (taxed enough already) Party. We want government drawn back, reduced to manageable level, thus reducing invasion, control, and taxation. Won't you consider joining with us conservative minded folks of the TEA Party.
Yes, this is absolute bullshit! Had a rear shock come up through my car trunk two weeks ago coming home from the VA on Rt 115 (pot hole alley), so I can now pay out of my pocket to get it fixed in addition to paying the highest gas tax in the nation. This crap needs to change! What are they doing with the $800 million?! Buying all those new grey vehicles that blend in with the road surface so when they fly down the highway at 90 miles an hour you can't see the damn things?!
Bluesky,
TEA... (Taxed Enough Already)
Are you ready to join yet? Maybe you have?
You see, folks like Nancy Pelosi, the Media, and even the POTUS has called us radical. Ha Ha Ha
We're the only ones who make sense these days.
What I don't understand is, how can you tax gas and tell us it goes to one thing during legislation, and then throw it into another?
TEA sponsored "Clean Sweep" PA years back, we never finished the job I see.
Enjoy the weekend.

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