PennDOT projects could be impacted by budget issues

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The department is seeking help from state legislature to offset their revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic

WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — PennDOT is seeking $600 million from the Pennsylvania legislature to help offset revenue lost during the pandemic.

Earlier in the week, state leaders and PennDOT officials held a virtual hearing to discuss a request for additional funding. Without it, the Department of Transportation says they could be forced to stop hundreds of projects statewide on December 1st.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm on this issue for many months,” PennDot Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian told Eyewitness News.

According to Gramin, the department is already down nearly $400 million in lost gas tax revenue with the potential of losing even more.

“Thankfully, traffic volumes are coming back but not at the pre-pandemic levels. And regardless, that revenue is gone for good,” Gramin said.

A suspension of ongoing projections could bring serious disruption.

In Lycoming County, over $55 million worth of work could be impacted. In both Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties, however, that figure is well over $100 million with major work still in progress on Interstates 81 and 84.

District 118 State Representative Michael Carroll said earlier this week that the situation requires action.

“The reality is that we have a giant, giant problem on our hands that will materialize in a week and a day,” Carroll said.

Not all lawmakers are in agreement. Some say the department’s lack of fiscal oversight is to blame and criticize calls for such a large bond just days before the budget deadline.

“How did this happen? It seems almost incomprehensible that nobody blew the whistle and said ‘we’re gonna need this money, and we’re gonna need it drastically,'” Rep. Tim Hennessey of the 26th District said.

Complicating the matter is that the legislature is not currently in session because of the holiday. Time is now of the essence as they make a decision about what to do about the budget shortfall.

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