Across Pennsylvania, bridges are buckling, roads are crumbling, and working people are burning more fuel to go fewer miles. Delays in necessary repair and maintenance work, coupled with rising prices in materials and reduced revenues yielded the perfect storm we currently face. In 2011Governor Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission developed a strategic proposal for addressing the transportation funding needs of Pennsylvania. In August 2011, the Commission issued its final report identifying the substantial challenges we face as well as their recommendations for meeting them.
In their report, the Commission projects that the future gap to fund transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania will more than double to $7.2 billion by 2020 if no action is taken. Currently, we face more than $3.5 billion in unmet transportation needs, due in large part to the inadequate funding methods of the past. Our Commonwealth has the most structurally deficient bridges in the nation, both in terms of number (5,906) and percentage (26.5% of 22,271). The temperature and weather changes of freeze/thaw cycles subject our pavements to cracking and expanding, while chemicals used to clear roads of ice and snow decrease the life of a pavement when compared to more temperate states.
Make no mistake, the situation is dire. We cannot improve Pennsylvania’s economy unless we have comprehensive, safe, convenient, affordable transportation and transit, so people can get to work and goods can move from business to business and from business to the consumer. I include in the term “business,” agriculture, the state’s biggest industry. In April of 2012, the legislature passed a privatization bill that takes care of some tiny amount of the billions we must invest in mobility infrastructure. We need a solution that does not fear imposing a tax (on Marcellus shale would be the best strategy), so we can meet our obligations without penalizing commuters or drivers.
I will work especially with elected officials who represent farmers to achieve some of these goals.