Lycoming County sees boost in money for roads, bridges

Lycoming County municipalities will get some significant help for road and bridge work in 2014, thanks to an increase in funding of roughly $305,000.

The state Department of Transportation will distribute $345 million in liquid fuels funds this year, which is a $25 million increase over 2013.

Local municipalities are welcoming the extra money, which will be distributed beginning March 3.

“It will definitely go toward streets paving,” said Ron Smith, Montoursville Borough streets supervisor.

The program has been cut “way back” in the last few years, he said, because the cost of asphalt almost has doubled.

“We’re not planning anything else for (the funding),” he said. “This is where we need it.”

Boroughs and townships in Pennsylvania receive liquid fuels funds – money resulting from a per-gallon tax on all liquid fuels sold, used or delivered in the state – every year for road and bridge-related expenses, such as paving, maintenence and snow removal.

Under Act 89, the new transportation funding bill signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last year, the amount of the reimbursements will grow by about $220 million in the next five years.

“It’s an increase of almost 60 percent by year five,” said Rick Mason, community relations director for PennDOT District 3-0. “That’s huge.”

In Jersey Shore, the extra funds also will go toward more street paving, as the borough is another one hit by the high cost of asphalt.

“We’ll be getting an increase of about $8,000 and it will all go toward paving,” said borough Manager Joe Hamm. “We put it off because of the cost, but that’s definitely the biggest need for the borough.”

The decision as to how the funding will be spent is left to the individual municipality, but “there are guidelines as to how the funds can be spent,” said Greg Dibble, municipal services specialist for PennDOT District 3-0.

“There’s a list of approved expenditures, from equipment purchases to engineering services, employee salaries, paving, anything associated with maintaining the roads … also winter services

and bridge maintenence and repairs,” he said.

Municipalities also have to properly document their projects and related purchases, and submit paperwork to both PennDOT and the Department of Community and Economic Development in a timely fashion.

Dibble said that the department, which is “busy year-round,” has already been in contact with municipalities about projects that will be using the extra funds.

The municipal services department assists municipalities with planning and execution of road and bridge projects, from giving estimates to helping with equipment purchases.

“We’ve already been out meeting with (them) and discussing projects,” he said. “There’s nothing major planned as of right now, but the additional funding is definitely going to help.”