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Corbett Signs Transportation Bill, Ushering In Higher Gas Taxes And 70 MPH Speed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA)-- On Monday morning, Gov. Tom Corbett signed the most expansive and expensive transportation funding bill in recent years promising major new investments.

"Because we put faith in each other, we can now put shovels in the ground and rebuild our transportation system," Corbett said.

By the fifth year, the plan will annually fund $1.3 billion dollars for state roads and bridges, $480 million dollars annually for public transit, $237 million for local roads and bridges and $86 million for Turnpike projects.

To pay for all this, gasoline taxes will go up, starting in 2014.

"I think that's absolutely ridiculous. Honestly, gasoline prices are already expensive enough. It really does not need to be more expensive. I can barely afford it now," Katie Kelley of the North Side told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano

Under this new law, gasoline prices will go up about 28 cents over the next four or five years, but that's not going to happen all at once.

PennDOT says, come January, expect the gasoline tax to go up by about 9.5 cents per gallon.

"That's a little too much to ask on the backs of the people. It's time to stop somewhere," said Eugene Hanner of Oakland.

The gas tax is not the only thing going up. The summary citation for running a red light or ignoring a stop sign will jump from $25 plus court costs to $150 plus costs in January.

And while it won't happen until the summer of 2015, the cost of registering your car every year will increase four dollars and a driver's license renewal will go up two bucks.

All to pay for repairs Corbett says are long overdue.

Buried in the new law is also a provision to raise the state's top speed limit from 65 to 70 mph, in line with neighboring states.

It's a popular idea.

"I think that's a good thing. On the highways, they should raise it up a little bit cause people do drive a little slow," added John Moore of South Side.

"People are already going past the speed limit, so you might as well raise it anyways," Kelly added.

But don't expect the higher speed limit to happen anytime soon.

Before the speed limit is increased to 70 miles per hour, PennDOT will conduct a traffic and engineering study along stretches of the interstate to determine the safety of increasing the speed limit. PennDOT says under no circumstances will that increase occur any time before the summer of 2014.

And while the Turnpike will make its own decision on speed limits, a spokesman says it's not likely to increase on the Turnpike soon either, although the new six-lane sections are likely to get the higher speed limits first.

One Ohio resident, Thomas Hoover, thinks Pennsylvania has been behind the times.

"Out-of-state drivers driving through Pennsylvania though, I do notice the 55 speed limits and it's kind of tough to follow that. It just seems more logical to change it to 70," Hoover said.

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