The Greater Philadelphia area's ability to thrive in the 21st century depends largely on rebuilding and remodeling the region's aging infrastructure network. According to "Connections 2040: Transportation Investment Scenarios," a recent report by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the nine-county region needs to spend upwards of $2.5 billion annually to maintain and improve its roads, bridges, and mass transit. Currently, the region only spends about $1.4 billion annually. With federal funding shrinking, the region could be heading for a crisis.
"Connections 2040" compares the region's infrastructure needs over the next 27 years to the amount of funding available under three scenarios. The worst case, or “low scenario,” assumes a 20 percent decrease in transportation funding and anticipates substantial declines in road and bridge conditions, more congestion, lower travel speeds, and increased costs. Under the “medium scenario,” which assumes a continuation of current funding, road and bridge conditions would worsen considerably over time, while transit infrastructure would remain about the same. The best possible scenario, the “high scenario,” envisions investment in and improvement of the area’s transit system to achieve a state of good repair, plus investment in a number of infrastructure improvements.
The report does not address the potential impact of Pennsylvania's new legislation authorizing the use of public-private partnerships (P3s). With the rising uncertainty in the political and economic landscape, expected further reductions in federal and state funding, and stagnant motor vehicle fuel tax revenue, the Greater Philadelphia region will likely need to look to innovative financing structures, including P3s, to keep the area’s transportation infrastructure alive. For more information on the legislation, click here.