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On August 26, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officially invited students attending state schools in grades 9-12 to participate in its fourth annual Innovations Challenge competition.

The deadline for competition applications is December 18 and regional Innovations Challenge winners will then battle for the state championship, PennDOT said.

Photo by PennDOT

This agency noted that this year’s its Innovations Challenge tasks students to develop an “implementable solution” to help address Pennsylvania’s transportation revenue shortfall by identifying potential new funding streams – aside from additional gas taxes, tolls, or mileage-based user fees – to help ensure adequate transportation funding for the future.

PennDOT noted that as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles become more affordable, diesel- and gasoline-based fuel tax revenues no longer generate the funding needed by the state’s transportation system.

To meet the needs of its aging infrastructure, Pennsylvania needs to establish a funding stream that will inject an additional $5 billion per year into its transportation system, the agency said.

Yassmin Gramian. Photo by PennDOT.

“One of the goals of [this] challenge is to open students’ minds to the possibility of a career in transportation, maybe even with PennDOT,” explained Yassmin Gramian, PennDOT’s secretary, in a statement.

“Students working on this project will engage in the very real challenge facing the industry – finding a sustainable solution to transportation funding challenges,” she added.

The Transportation Policy and Education Foundation – an educational arm of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors – along with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services are providing a combined total award of $5,500 to be divided among the first, second, and third place statewide winning teams.

editor@aashto.org

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