Pennsylvania Transportation: Higher gas tax could save you money?
Is there some way that raising the gas tax could actually save drivers money? According to this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pittsburgh Section, the answer is ‘yes’.
Consider this math from Karl P. Sieg, vice president of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pittsburgh section:
Various studies have placed the cost of damage to vehicles from rough roads at $300 to $400 per year. He has heard estimates as high as $750.
A 25-cent-per-gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (or “user fee” as Mr. Sieg calls it) would raise more than $1.5 billion. For a driver who goes 15,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon, the annual cost would be $150.
“In other words, for less than half what we pay each year to repair the damage to our cars caused by worn-out roads, we could fix the roads,” he said. “Kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it?”
It makes sense that if the roads are smoother and safer, there will be less wear-and-tear and accidents to cars. According to WFMZ coverage of the Pennsylvania’s infrastructure progress report,– prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers– the state’s roads received a D-, bridges received a C, and transit received a D-. And what’s more, PennDOT says that the state has more structurally deficient bridges than ANY STATE in the country. Our number is 5,646.
While 25 cents per-gallon may seem like a drastic increase, consider the $1.5 Billion in new revenue, and the relatively low cost of $150 to drivers who spend about 15,000 miles in a car each year. There are two clear benefits:
1. Closing the transportation funding gap
This revenue would provide enough money to cover the $450 million dollar transportation funding gap AND leave plenty of money to enhance our transit systems and get the state back on track in all of its infrastructure demands.
2. Save taxpayers money
Taxpayers are currently driving on damaged roads which causes unnecessary damage to vehicles over the course of a year. By repairing the roads, there would be less damage to the cars that travel on them. In other words, a tax at the pump actually saves a driver from annual repair costs.
The state is in the middle of a serious transportation crisis. In fact, the state has launched this website to explain the seriousness of the crisis. After seeing the extent of the state’s needs, consider whether or not raising the gas tax may be a relatively simple and inexpensive (for the taxpayers) way to create a sustainable funding source.
Is this line of thinking flawed? Is there anything that the American Society of Civil Engineers is missing?
Feel free to comment below.