DVRPC Approves Long-Range Plan

August 5, 2009

The bi-state, nine-county Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission recently approved a long-range plan for economic growth and, in doing so, has provided a forward-thinking template for addressing the Philadelphia region’s transportation issues.

Called Connections: The Regional Plan for a Sustainable Future, the report concludes that the region faces a $45 billion funding gap over the next 26 years for maintaining roads, bridges and mass transit.  The plan’s authors suggested that local governments must boost spending to fill the gap, since “federal and state funding levels are not expected to increase.”

“It became crystal-clear how daunting this issue is, and we wanted to open this up for discussion with the local governments and the legislatures,” Mike Boyer, DVRP manager of long-range planning and an author of the plan, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.  “Moving forward, we have some tough decisions to make.”

If the funding needs are not met, deteriorating bridges and highways may need to be shut down or face weight restrictions, stifling opportunities for economic growth.

PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner noted that Pennsylvania’s restrictions on raising transportation revenue locally tend to create divisions among legislators in Harrisburg, especially as it relates to funding for mass transit.

“It creates a rural-versus-urban divide over where the state should allocate revenue,” Wagner said.  “Many people believe that giving regions the authority to raise revenue and prioritize transportation projects would make it easier to achieve a consensus on state transportation funding.  In any case, it would give local communities more say in which projects are funded and when.”

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