CONVENTIONAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
Federal regulations require that Long Range Transportation Plans include a financial plan. The financial plan should identify reasonable funding resources sufficient to implement the current and proposed projects within the 20-year fiscal constraint period to demonstrate the federal transportation system is being adequately operated and maintained. The program of projects will be implemented if the project development process requirements are satisfied and the financial resources assumed in the RTP are in place.
PennDOT provided financial guidance in the 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) entitled “Scenario 4: Transportation Program Financial Guidance.” The document provided Year of Expenditure (YOE) calculations for estimating project costs and inflation factors for projecting transportation revenue growth over the life span of the RTP. Project revenue was projected to the year 2040 using baseline funding provided in the draft HATS 2019-2022 TIP, estimated inflation rate factors consistent with the financial guidance recommendations, as well as historic revenue trends and financial assumptions developed by evaluating prior year’s federal, state and local expenditures. The total projected revenue anticipated to be available through 2040 is approximately $3.8 billion.
HATS programs projects in 4-year increments, commonly known as the TIP. The current TIP became effective October 1, 2018 as this RTP was being finalized. The total amount of funding for the TIP is $569 million. Based on coordination with PennDOT, the total amount of funding necessary to fully complete the projects on the 2019 TIP is $97 million. Additionally, PennDOT has estimated that the funding necessary to complete projects programmed in the 12YP and maintain the current condition of the transportation assets in the HATS region throughout the planning period is approximately $875 million. With estimates for transit and interstate investments at $339 million and $1 billion respectively, this provides for approximately $311 million remaining in the MPO’s anticipated level of funding through 2040 beyond meeting the needs and recommendations evaluated in the regional priority project pipeline listing. However, $3.7 billion remains unfunded for projects identified from planning study recommendations, Regional Connections program projects, and HATS’ congestion management and safety analyses. A listing of these projects is included in the regional priority project pipeline listing as illustrative.
Therefore, the HATS 2040 RTP is fiscally constrained, as the estimated year of expenditure cost of the identified transportation investments proposed to meet the needs and recommendations ranges from $600 to $900 million and is within the projected revenue available for the next 20 years, as illustrated below.
The key recommendations contained in the RTP and input received through the Transportation Need Form that is integrated into this plan are designed to identify transportation system needs within the planning period that are not addressed by the projects contained in the TIP. Once the needs are identified and prioritized, HATS will work with PennDOT and other stakeholders to develop projects that can fit within the funds available, thereby maintaining fiscal constraint throughout the planning period. This ongoing planning process ensures that the projects contained in future TIPs are consistent with the RTP priorities when federal transportation funds are to be used for project implementation.
The financial analysis relies on current recommended economic factors to estimate future available revenue and project cost estimates. The calculations do not consider any potential unforeseen economic events that may present a positive or negative impact to the current projection of available revenue, as well as estimates of project needs and associated costs. Any such major events may necessitate a revision to the RTP.
The RTP is not intended to be a standalone funding program. The plan serves as the basis for determining project priorities among many competing regional transportation needs and improves the decision-making process for the development of the biannual TIP. Other funding opportunities including the PennDOT and DCED Multimodal Fund and Public-Private Partnerships are identified in the following sections of the plan.