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Could Road Improvements Mean More Money for Gas?

HAZLETON — The head of PennDOT was in Luzerne County today to talk about Governor Corbett’s plans to improve transportation in Pennsylvania. The Governor proposes changing gasoline taxes to fund road and bridge repairs.

Work is already underway, here along Broad Street in Hazleton, an improvement project three years in the making, one that drivers like Gabriel Rodriguez say still needs a lot of work.

“So far this month, I had three flats, just from the potholes. So it’s kind of damaging for the car,” said Gabriel Rodriguez, of Hazleton.

So damaging, some drivers say they avoid it altogether.

“It’s an annoyance. I go side roads and back roads to where I have to go around the town,” said Amanda Bellizia.

With billboards like these across our area, even AAA is touting the need for road improvements in Pennsylvania.

It’s on roads like this that Governor Corbett says he’d like spend almost $2 billion over five years for even more repairs. But under his proposal, drivers would pay less tax directly to the state. The money to fix roads would come from eliminating the cap on taxes that oil companies pay. However, critics say that could drive up gas prices.

That’s something Gabriel Rodriguez says he can’t afford.

“It’s kind of hard just to go on a road trip with my family. It’s hard. I can’t. Everything’s on a budget now,” said Rodriguez.

The PennDOT Secretary says worst case scenario, gas prices would only go up about two dollars a week for the average driver.

“You pay for what you use. By doing it with the oil company franchise tax, basically, if you drive a lot, consume a lot of gas, you’re going to pay more. If you don’t drive much, you don’t pay much,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch.

At his presentation in Luzerne County, he said it would be worse to vote down the Governor’s transportation plan.

“It doesn’t do our children any favors to keep kicking this can down the road. It will just cost more later,” said Schoch.

This is a five-year transportation plan.

The PennDOT Secretary says that two dollar a week increase would happen if gas prices stay where they are now, but there’s no way of knowing where they’ll be five years from now. Lawmakers still need to vote on the budget.



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