New Castle News

Closer Look

February 12, 2013

State considers bridge repairs, tolling

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is exploring a plan that would pave the way for the state to possibly complete a decade’s worth of bridge repairs in a year or two.

However, the proposal would involve the private tolling of such spans.

A public-private partnership board appointed last fall could be used by PennDOT to bundle hundreds of bridge projects so that the state’s backlog of bridge repairs can be addressed quickly using money from the governor’s transportation plan.

Under that approach, the state would identify similar bridge projects across the Commonwealth and invite private firms to bid on the right to pay for all the projects.

Pennsylvania has more than 4,700 structurally deficient bridges.

Exactly how the public-private partnership concept is integrated into Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1.8 billion transportation plan is likely to be explored during a Senate transportation committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers said Monday.

There are two general approaches that are used for public-private partnerships in road and bridge work.

In one scenario, the state could identify a single mammoth project that is too costly for the government to do alone, and opt to allow a private entity to fund the work, often in exchange for the right to toll the highway or bridge, Kendro said.

In the other approach, the state can bundle together similar bridge and road projects and invite a private entity to come up with the cost to do all the work at once.

Bryan Kendro, director of PennDOT’s Office of Policy and Public-Private Partnerships, said that under this approach, each bridge project might cost 3 to 5 percent more than it would if it was done individually. But when having the ability to get all the work done almost immediately means that there would savings on presumed escalations in construction prices that would have taken place if it took longer to fix the bridges.

A public-private partnership of this type would not automatically include tolls, because the private builder could make a modest profit by charging the state a little extra. The state would still benefit because a project delayed for several years may increase in cost by 7 to 8 percent, Kendro said.

Kendro said PennDOT can not proceed on any ambitious public-private partnerships until the state’s transportation funding plan is approved. Once that happens, then the state could begin to solicit for proposals. However, companies may make unsolicited bids to do the work. But the next window in which that could happen does not open until May.

The state’s public privatization board has only met twice. At its last meeting, the board — consisting of Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch and Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, three business representatives, a union official and state Rep. Steve Santarsiero — established its policies and procedures and approved a plan to outsource operation of an information hotline.

(Email: jfinnerty@cnhi.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • Local pastor helping fire victims

    A local pastor is opening up donation avenues to help two families who lost their homes to fire this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • First Energy to replace transmission line

    FirstEnergy Corp. has plans to rebuild a power transmission line between the West Pittsburg plant and a Mahoningtown substation.

    April 18, 2014

  • school.jpg Union to return assistant principal post

    The Union Area School District will have a new administrator when the 2014-15 school year starts. The board voted 8-0 Wednesday night to hire an assistant principal. Debra Allebach was absent.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Calen.tiff Callen gets state honors

    Robert Callen has been selected to receive a state award for his contribution to local government in Pennsylvania. Callen, 58, executive director of the Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments, received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miller.jpg Wilmington superintendent discusses common core

    The Wilmington district has no reason to fear new Pennsylvania Core standards, superintendent Dr. Michelle Miller said. She talked about the standards to approximately two dozen residents at the school board’s monthly pre-meeting Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shreck.tiff Schreck reappointed Shenango superintendent

    Dr. Michael Schreck has been reappointed as Shenango’s superintendent for a five-year term. The school board approved his reappointment by an 8-0 vote Monday. Nicholas Manolis was absent.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Congressional candidate disqualified

    Commonwealth Court has removed a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat from the May 20 primary ballot. Judge Bernard L. McGinley has invalidated the nomination petitions of Mel A. Marin of Sharon.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Shenango passes tax abatement

    Shenango Township supervisors unanimously approved a tax abatement for Blackwatch Properties LLC when they met Thursday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage