(Harrisburg) -- The head of PennDOT is calling Governor Corbett's plan to boost funding for transportation improvements a good start to a problem that will likely take years to fix.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch is fending off Democrats critical of the administration's $2 billion proposal -- by noting the rate of investment in his agency has not changed since 1997.
During budget hearings at the Capitol, he says debate over how much to spend on transportation projects is expected, but something must be done soon.
"We're not going to allow bridges to be unsafe, but we will weight-restrict them as our revenues get reduced," Schoch says. "We will always emphasize bridges over roadway. What you're seeing right now, I'm certain many of you have noticed this, is you're seeing a degradation of our road surface quality, because we're focusing on bridges, that's the bigger issue for us from a public safety standpoint."
Schoch says PennDOT oversees 25-thousand bridges that have an average age of 50 years.
He says the department has seen revenues fall due to inflation and more fuel-efficient vehicles, which have reduced tax collections on gas.
Some Democrats say Corbett's plan to remove the cap on the wholesale gas tax to fund PennDOT is inadequate.
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