George: Transportation Funding Crisis Delays Local Projects

(GantDaily Graphic)

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, said that the state Transportation Department has listed seven bridge and highway projects involving work in Clearfield County that are stymied because of a lack of funding.

“The region’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate – and roughly 120 jobs tied to work on county projects will go unfilled – until $472 million in annual funding is secured,” Rep. George said. “No painless remedy exists, but failing to invest in infrastructure will put more peoples’ safety at risk and compound the costs.”

According to PennDOT, the following projects will be delayed until funding is available:

? Bridge replacement on State Route 219 over Pentz Run in Sandy Township, affecting 10 jobs;

? Bridge replacement on State Route 322 over Laurel Run in Decatur Township affecting 11 jobs;

? Bridge replacement on State Route 255 in Huston Township affecting 11 jobs;

? Bridge preservation along State Route 219 over Curry Run in Brady Township and State Route 3009 over the East Branch of Mahoning Creek in Greenwood Township, affecting 22 jobs;

? Bridge preservation on State Route 219 over Laurel Run in Bell Township, affecting 11 jobs;

? Resurfacing of State Routes 36, 53 and 219 in Clearfield County, affecting 40 jobs;

? Resurfacing of State Routes 219, 286 and 879 in Clearfield County, affecting 20 jobs.

“The effect on Clearfield County from the loss of almost $13.5 million in funding and 405 jobs among the seven projects is difficult to calculate precisely because some of the projects include work in other counties,” George said. “However, if you consider the lost funding and jobs from projects in nearby counties that affect Clearfield County motorists an workers, the economic damage probably is not far off the mark.”

George said the Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania, which serves Clearfield and five nearby counties, will lose $53 million in funding for new transit terminals, buses and updated technology.

A listing of the road, bridge and transit projects being delayed by the funding shortfall is available online.

“Pennsylvania has 5,600 bridges rated as structurally deficient, and Clearfield County is home to many of them,” George said. “The problem demands solutions, yet all of the remaining alternatives – including higher license and registration fees, higher fuel and oil franchise taxes, private-public partnerships and more borrowing – have drawbacks and detractors.”

George said the needs of local and county infrastructure also require prompt attention.

“We have a bridge out near Olanta causing hardships, and local roads and bridges are taking a terrible pounding from increased Marcellus Shale gas drilling,” George said. “We either devise a fair way for these costs to be shared or local taxpayers will take a similar pounding.

“The rubber must hit the road soon on paying for infrastructure,” said Rep. George, noting that his House Bill 1489 would return severance tax proceeds from gas drillers to the municipality and the county where the gas is being drilled and to the Liquid Fuels Tax Fund for infrastructure funding for all municipalities.

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