Infrastructure needs a dose of bipartisanship
Pennsylvania has more substandard bridges 4,000-plus, than any other state. And the state government maintains more miles of highways than any other state, about 41,000. PennDOT District 4-0, based in Lackawanna County, is responsible for 3,500 miles of roads and 2,100 bridges.
So, naturally, the bumbling state Legislature left for the summer recently without taking care of transportation funding, which is crucial to public safety and the state's economy.
The Senate passed a transportation bill that gradually would increase highway, bridge and transit funding by $2.5 billion by the end of the fifth year, but the House choked and did nothing.
As a result, the state has missed an entire construction season, during which it could have started to reverse the long decline of the commonwealth's transportation infrastructure while financially stabilizing mass transit systems. It passed on the opportunity not only to fix highways and bridges, but to create thousands of jobs in construction and its supply industries.
Comically, Gov. Tom Corbett this week blamed House Democrats for the failure, even though his fellow Republicans hold 111 seats in the chamber, a 19-vote majority. Democrats quite properly objected to provisions in a House bill that would have shortchanged mass transit. That measure contradicted the governor's own proposal for adequate mass transit funding.
But, in any case, the governor has more than rhetoric at his disposal. He should force lawmakers to return to Harrisburg across the state's battered roads and bridges for a special session on transportation. Shortening lawmakers' ridiculously long summer idle might jump-start bipartisanship, thus public safety and economic development.