State Rep. Brendan Boyle said there’s been “deafening silence” from Gov. Tom Corbett since a blue ribbon commission last August made recommendations to address Pennsylvania’s transportation issues.
Boyle (D-170th dist.) last week joined his brother, Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172nd dist.), and Abington Township Commissioner Madeleine Dean at a news conference in a parking lot adjacent to busy Route 232. Dean is the Democratic candidate in next week’s special election in the eastern Montgomery County-based 153rd Legislative District.
The Democrats want Corbett, a Republican, to fund fixes to structurally deficient bridges and improvements to roads, highways and mass transit.
In his budget address in February, the governor said it was “critical” that the state tackle transportation issues, adding that the problems are so big that they must be addressed outside the budget process.
The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission on Aug. 1 called for the following funding by 2020: $1.3 billion for transit, $1.2 billion for bridges, $465 million to expand the capacity of major highways and $388 million for local and state highways.
“Let’s act now,” Brendan Boyle said.
The commission offered funding solutions that included hikes in fuel taxes and vehicle registration and driver’s license fees and elimination of the cap on the oil company franchise tax.
Those recommendations were made more than eight months ago.
“Absolutely nothing has happened to this point,” Brendan Boyle said.
Boyle said one reason could be that there is a general anti-government feeling among many in Harrisburg, and they’re hesitant to raise taxes or fees.
Federal funding for significant transportation projects is not expected to materialize.
The problems are not going away, according to Dean and the Boyles.
Brendan Boyle said Route 232 often gets backed up with traffic heading south into Rockledge and Fox Chase and north near Philmont Avenue.
The average age of bridges in Pennsylvania is 53 years, older than the national average. The state leads the nation with more than 5,500 structurally deficient bridges.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Brendan Boyle said.
Boyle is hopeful that Rep. Rick Geist, a Blair County Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, convinces House leadership to move forward on the funding issue.
Kevin Boyle does not understand why the issue of transportation funding needs to be controversial, arguing that spending will promote commerce and the creation of good jobs. He fears an incident similar to the one that took place on Aug. 1, 2007, when a bridge on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13.
Dean said the transportation spending would create construction and affiliated jobs. She also believes it’s better to address these issues now rather than later, when they would be more costly and could come after a tragedy.
“A stitch in time saves nine,” she said, quoting Benjamin Franklin. ••EndFragment