TRIP Releases Dismal Statistics for PA Roads and Bridges

TRIP, a National transportation research group released their report on the condition of Pennsylvania’s roads and Bridges. Paste the link below into your browser to see the report.

http://www.tripnet.org/docs/Pennsylvania_TRIP_Statewide_Release_052913.pdf

It seems that the statistics have not changed over the last few years: 25% of bridges are structurally deficient, motorists spend hours in traffic delays wasting fuel, our economic viability continues to be challenged as it our mobility becomes more limited. We don’t seem to see any employment gains or increased economic activity due to our lack of investment in transportation infrastructure.

It seems the only way out of this predicament is to push our elected officials to have the “political will” to fund infrastructure. It seems difficult at a time when economic hardship has captured our focus to go out and commit our resources to infrastructure but at some point we have to realize that the funding isn’t just going to appear. We are going to have to “bite the bullet” and pay a little more in fuel taxes and user fees if we expect there to be any changes. I hope that we see some momentum in Pennsylvania’s Senate and House to deliver a transportation bill during this session. I hope everyone contacts their state senators and representatives and tells them how they feel about the statistics in the TRIP report.

Congressman Shuster Acknowledges Transportation Infrastructure at the Tipping Point

U.S. Representative Bill Shuster spoke yesterday at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Breakfast which was held at the Mack Truck Customer Center in Allentown, PA.  . Congressman Shuster is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He acknowledged that the condition of our transportation infrastructure has fallen to the point where it is having a serious effect on our economic growth and global competitiveness. Our current funding legislation known as MAP 21 has not generated sufficient funds to maintain our current programs and will expire in September 2014. The Congressman indicated that they are looking at all potential funding sources. Congressman Charlie Dent also spoke briefly at the meeting discussing the need for a long term approach to solving this funding problem. He also indicated that the Northeast Rail Corridor should be upgraded to help ease congestion on our highways.

Congressman Shuster also discussed the Water Resources Development Act which is moving throught he Senate and will need to move through the House. This bill provides funding for ports, harbors, and inland waterways which are also in desperate need of a stable funding source.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce outlines is support for a long term and flexible funding plan for transportation infrastructure. Copy this link into your browser to see the Policy.

 

http://www.lehighvalleychamber.org/External/WCPages/WCWebContent/WebContentPage.aspx?ContentID=2285

PA Transportation Funding On Priority List for State Legislators

 During this week, progress was made on one of four major issues currently before the State Legislature.  The plan to privatize the State’s Liquor Stores passed the State House and the plan now moves onto the State Senate.  The Governor has indicated that he supports privatizing the liquor stores.

The other three major issues before our legislators are a plan to fund transportation infrastructure, the State’s budget, and reforms to the State’s pension system.  As part of the Governor’s budget address in early March he has introduced a plan which would reduce the State’s portion of the fuel tax but lift the cap on the wholesale fuel tax.  This plan, along with some minor changes to registration and license fees would be phased in over five years and would eventually raise an additional $1.7 Billion to fund transportation infrastructure.  The Governors funding commission released a report in August of 2011 indicating that funding at the level of $2.8 Billion per year would allow sufficient funding to allow us to maintain our roadway and mass transit systems at the level they are currently performing.  Several legislators have suggested that when bills are introduced in the House and Senate they may include higher funding levels to allow for the maintenance and potential improvement of our transportation infrastructure.

The annual battle over the State’s budget will likely be contentious, however, the State’s revenues have shown some growth as it appears the economy in Pennsylvania has stabilized and may actually be growing slightly.  The issue of Pension reform is a very difficult battle.  It is likely that new workers will receive different less costly retirement plans than workers in the existing system.  While private industry has moved away from defined benefit programs in favor of defined contribution programs the State government has continued to resist this change.

Democratic State Representatives Gather for Comments on Transportation Infrastructure

On Thursday February 28, 2013 ten state representative from across Pennsylvania held a hearing at the America On Wheels Museum in Allentown.  The purpose of the hearing was to gather public input concerning the Governor’s proposed transportation funding plan and needs of our state’s citizens.  Pete Terry presented the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Funding Policy.  Representatives from PennDOT, LANta, and other interested groups also provided testimony.

The Chamber’s policy recognizes the importance of bridges, roads, public transportation, airports, and rail freight to the economic viability and quality of life in the Lehigh Valley.  The policy supports transportation infrastructure with the following points:

Promote Efficiency in Transportation Projects

Promote The Setting Of An Appropriate Prevailing Wage

Wider Use Of Tolling In New And Existing Public Highways

The Creation Of Dedicated Funding For the State Police

Private-Public-Partnerships (P3)

Gradual Adjustment The Cap On The Oil Franchise Tax (OCFT)

Implement Inflation Based Increases In Fuel & User Fees

The full policy is available at: http://www.lehighvalleychamber.org/chamber-information/transportation-committee.aspx

From the discussion following the presentations it was clear that there is an understanding that the Governors proposed $1.8 B funding program will have a significant impact on improving our infrastructure but will fall well short of the needs which have been identified.

A link to the Easton Express news article on the hearing is below.

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2013/02/greater_lehigh_valley_chamber_2.html