It’s all there on the map, for the public to see — except, of course, that it’s all subject to change.
State Transportation Secretary Barry J. Schoch on Friday unveiled a new website designed to illustrate where additional transportation funding would be spent across Pennsylvania if a long-term funding solution is approved by lawmakers.
As Schoch has been saying in speeches and interviews across the state, the “Decade of Investment” website at www.dotdecade.pa.gov also reminds readers of the cost to travelers and the economy if the measure fails.
PennDOT’s map illustrates 10 years’ worth of highway and bridge project funding in terms of what projects could be completed under each of two competing plans — a $1.8 billion proposal by Gov. Tom Corbett, unveiled in February, and a $2.5 billion plan that remains under consideration in the House after being passed by the Senate earlier this month.
“This tool allows the public to see how the state, their region or local area of interest would benefit from the raised level of investment,” Schoch said.
Readers can search the map by county, regional planning agency and state House and Senate districts. Each highway or bridge project is represented by an icon, attached to project information including description and cost.
PennDOT officials on Friday said that an itemized list of projects in Luzerne County, as listed on the map, was not available. Toggling back and forth between plans on the electronic map calls up dozens of star and highway icons, representing bridges and highways, respectively.
State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca, a member of the transportation committee, praised release of the map for giving taxpayers a means to compare the proposals, but he cautioned that the legislative process could result in a plan different from both — or in no plan at all.
“The transportation network is not static,” Carroll said.
Meanwhile, rumblings out of Harrisburg suggest that what eventually emerges is likely to look different from the existing proposals.
House Republicans already have taken aim at a provision of Senate Bill 1 under which motorists would have to pay an extra $100 per traffic offense, a surcharge that would generate about $100 million in annual revenue. State Rep. Dick Hess, R-Bedford, head of the House Transportation Committee, opposes the surcharge.
Hess spokesman Ray Smith said amendments to the bill are being drafted in advance of a committee meeting on Monday, although he said information about those amendments was not available Friday, noting Hess himself had not even seen some of them.
PennDOT’s map was at the center of controversy earlier this week, after it emerged in an Associated Press report that lawmakers were given access several weeks ago to what was then the password-protected website, initially refusing requests by the news agency to detail projects that could be funded because the list was still essentially a draft.
“I made a commitment to Pennsylvanians, and their elected officials, to create a map showing the benefits of additional transportation funding because Pennsylvanians have a right to see how their precious dollars are being invested,” Schoch said in a press release.