PennDOT forecasts diminished 2012 highway construction program

November 21, 2011

PennDOT Deputy Secretary Scott Christie last week outlined the department’s projected 2012 construction program during an annual gathering of the highway construction industry. And, the news wasn’t good.

While lettings this year will exceed the original projections of approximately $1.9 billion, Christie put the 2012 forecast at a maximum $1.5 billion in lettings, a decrease of more than 20 percent.

Given its diminishing resources, PennDOT will focus on “preservation of the network” in 2012 and plans to bid only six projects exceeding $20 million, with a potential of adding eight more if circumstances warrant.

Christie was quick to add that the $1.5 billion figure would increase to about $2 billion if the state enacts a comprehensive funding package soon, due to the department’s ability to bond against future anticipated revenues.

Also addressing the gathering of approximately 1,500 people at the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Fall Conference was PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who outlined elements of a funding proposal that would generate additional short and long-term funding. Schoch indicated that a key component of the plan would be to systematically increase the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax in out years when the economy improves, but that short-term bonding could be used to generate immediate funds.

While the specifics of such funding proposal are still being vetted with the state legislature, Schoch indicated that the passage of a funding proposal is still within reach. He said Gov. Tom Corbett is working on the specifics of making a funding-package announcement, which could come as early as this week.

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