As almost everyone now knows, there was high political drama this past week. The transportation funding bill that had been in the works for the past ten months failed twice on Monday, and then passed on the third try (104-95; click for roll call) on Tuesday. It was a huge relief to see it get through the Senate on Wednesday (43-27), and again in the House for a concurrence vote on Thursday (113-85). It is expected to be signed by the Governor next week.
Tremendous credit for this success goes to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who worked diligently for several years to make the case for the nearly $2.4 billion package, and fought hard to keep the issue front and center even after the House was unable to take a vote in June and rejected versions of the bill twice on Monday night.
- Creates a multi-modal fund that grows from $30 to $144 million over a 5-year period, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding;
- Sets an annual minimum of $2 million of that fund to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
- Makes it easier to use state transportation money for pedestrian safety projects, streetscaping & lighting;
- Explicitly states that Pennsylvania’s comprehensive transportation system includes Pennsylvania’s “numerous bicycle and pedestrian facilities,” which will make it easier for bicycle/pedestrian projects to compete for highway funds.
A full analysis of how the entire funding package will increase over the next five years is here.
If you want to celebrate the bill’s signing, there will be three bill signing events, one real and two symbolic, happening on Monday:
- Live bill signing: State College, PA. Happening 9:30 AM at the VFW Post 9575 located along route 322, just west of the 322/144 intersection.
- Montgomery County. Happening roughly 12:30 PM, exact location and date TBD (somewhere in SE MontCo; we’ll update this post when we know).
- Pittsburgh. Happening 4 PM by the Liberty Bridge.