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More focus needed on our state roads

Published March 04. 2010 05:00PM

Here in the Keystone State, it's no secret that our highways and bridges are vital to our existence and play a key role in all our lives. From a school bus driver picking up school children, to a doctor heading to work at a hospital, to the farmer delivering milk, Pennsylvania's highway and bridge system consists of thousands of miles of roadway, much of which faces a serious crisis.

Repairs are sorely needed on our Interstates and our other congested roadways across our region. Possible solutions to this problem are now under review in each of the 50 capitals, as well as by the U.S. Congress.

One year ago this week, Congress passed a $787 billion "stimulus package" with the stated goal of spurring job growth through investments in energy, the environment, education, healthcare and transportation. A troubling USAToday analysis of government records shows that counties that supported President Obama in the 2008 election reaped twice as much money per person from the stimulus package, compared with those that did not.

According to a recent report, only about 1/26th of Pennsylvania's share of the total stimulus package has been dedicated for transportation related projects, a small fraction of the dollars needed on an annual basis to improve Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure.

When Governor Rendell recently outlined his FY 2010-2011 budget in Harrisburg, he failed to note the immediate need for transportation funding here in Pennsylvania.

Our state and federal governments need to focus our efforts on our existing road and bridge funding needs, rather than spend billions upon billions on a variety of controversial new spending proposals. I strongly believe that if the federal "stimulus" package and Pennsylvania state government budgets had directed more money to vital infrastructure projects instead of funding more controversial proposals, this legislation in Washington and Harrisburg would have received much more bipartisan support.

The answer to this issue seems clear. Focusing additional state and federal recovery funding on our transportation network will give Pennsylvania residents a safe and reliable infrastructure system, while putting more Pennsylvanians to work at decent wages. We need to invest more in our transportation infrastructure utilizing these existing dollars. We cannot continue to watch our roads and bridges crumble.

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