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07/20/2024 10:14 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=39285
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 12, 2023 10:17 AM
From: Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reducing Project Delivery Costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
 
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation to reduce project delivery costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) by reforming environmental regulations.
 
My legislation will place PTC under the same exemption from local municipal ordinances as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 
 
My legislation will also review the stringent regulations forced upon PTC to construct costly stormwater reduction strategies. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental enforces the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System by each point of discharge in lieu of by watershed, which is practiced in our neighboring states. This onerous approach is exasperated on linear transportation projects with significantly more points of discharge than typical site development. The number of stormwater control measures dramatically increased from 96 measures in 2008 to 739 measures in 2018. An example of a stormwater reduction strategy occurred on a PTC project west of Carlisle where PTC invoked eminent domain to take 2.7 acres of farmland to construct a large stormwater pond that will never reach capacity. Spending money to take land to build disproportionate watersheds is a waste of tollpayer’s dollars.
 
In the past 10 years, PTC had to invest approximately $135 million in stormwater management costs, which is expected to increase to approximately $170 million in the next 10 years. These costs do not even reflect long-term inspection and maintenance costs. 
 
Further, PTC has to follow another stringent sanction to remove “regulated” soil from a project site. The soils of the Commonwealth contain naturally occurring metals. If PTC excavates native soil and the tests conclude that the soil contains naturally occurring metals above the Clean Fill standards, then the soil is deemed regulated and needs to be disposed of properly. As a result, PTC evaluates whether to pay the costly testing and disposal fees, or to buy property and pay a contractor to build massive mounds of soil near the project site. Spending money to test and dispose of soil that was never touched, and contains naturally occurring metals, is another waste of tollpayer dollars.
 
PTC was mandated to provide $450 million annually to support public transportation across the Commonwealth, which ended on June 30, 2022. As a result, PTC has been increasing toll rates to pay off nearly $7 billion in borrowed money to support public transportation. Now is the time to start thinking of innovative ways to save PTC money. Eliminating stringent rules to pay for unnecessary environmental regulations will help PTC deliver more projects.
 
Previous co-sponsors were:  Yaw, Mensch, Costa, Pittman, and Stefano.
 
Revisions to Commonwealth law can provide more flexibility to address environmental issues. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to reduce project delivery costs and help bolster the PTC’s capital program. With your support, we can also end the future takeover of farmland and other private property for disproportionate watersheds and costly environmental rules.
 



Introduced as SB934