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Pennsylvanians pay the highest gas tax in the country, but where does it go?

PITTSBURGH — We hear people complain about it all time on social media and at the pumps. Pennsylvanians pay the highest gas tax in the country.

Channel 11 wanted to know why we're paying more than 50 cents more than some other states, while our roads are ranked near the worst in the country.

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Every gallon of gas in Pennsylvania includes 77 cents of tax. Nearly 59 cents of that is state tax. The money from the gas tax goes for repairs on roads and bridges across the state.

Even with the highest tax, the think tank The Reason Foundation ranked Pennsylvania's roads one of the ten worst in the country. Channel 11 drove right over the border to East Liverpool, Ohio and watched the gas price fall 30 cents. Ohio ranked 26th on the list of best roads. Pennsylvania came in at 41st.

Here's a look at the top five best roads:

  • North Dakota
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • South Carolina

None of those states charged more than 49 cents per gallon in state taxes. Drivers we spoke to say that doesn't add up.

"They're wasting the money somehow, someway," said driver Don Yost.

Channel 11 went to PennDOT to see just how the money is being used.

"We don't spend money foolishly," said District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni.

The gas tax increases came under Act 89, which former Governor Tom Corbett passed in 2013. The third and final increase went into effect two years ago.

"If we wouldn't have had Act 89 passed, we would have been in really bad shape in this area," Moon-Sirianni said.

Act 89 has funded many projects in our area, including the huge three year project to repair the Liberty Bridge. Moon-Sirianni said before those repairs, the bridge was in such bad shape, large trucks couldn't use it.

"When you have a 50-thousand vehicle per day bridge not able to carry commerce across it, that really impacts all over the place," she said.

The money also paid for the ongoing work on Interstate 279, the widening of Interstate 70 in Washington County and nearly every other PennDOT project in the area. Moon-Sirianni told us, in some way, the gas tax actually is saving you money.

"All those potholes popping up on the roads right now that would have been doubled or tripled had we not had the gas tax to repair some of those," she told Channel 11.

The state defends needing so much money for repairs because the toll harsh winters take and the size of our road and bridge system. State officials say Pennsylvania has as many state-maintained miles as New York, New Jersey and all of the New England states combined. The state also has the third largest bridge system in the country.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced months ago, he's looking into the gas tax. Channel 11 called his office and found out that audit is still ongoing. As soon as it's complete, we'll let you know what he found.

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