On a rare sunny and mild January afternoon, several Democratic state lawmakers gathered at the Greenfield Bridge in Pittsburgh, calling on Governor Tom Corbett to take the lead on transportation funding. February 1st marks the six month anniversary of the governor's Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission releasing its report outlining options for the governor. The report included ideas such as uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax and raising license fees to support investments in highways, bridges, and mass transit.
So far no action has been taken and transportation funding faces drastic cuts.
"My colleagues are here, ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work, and we're hopeful that the governor will put in the appropriate request through the budget process when he announces his budget next week," said State Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).
Costa said PennDOT statistics show there are more than six million trips daily across Allegheny County bridges that are rated either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient and more than 178,000 trips across bridges that have temporary supports or weight restrictions in place. If roads and bridges aren't fixed, the lawmakers warned, the economy would take a big hit.
"It will affect commerce, it will affect jobs, it will have a significant impact on public safety," said Representative Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny). "If we don't fix our transportation system, both transit and infrastructure, we will not see our economic development move forward in this state."
The lawmakers said they have bipartisan support on the issue and repeatedly called on Governor Corbett to take a leadership role on transportation funding. Inaction, they said, would have far-reaching impacts.
"This is not just a Philadelphia problem, it's not just an Allegheny problem, this is a statewide issue that must be addressed," said Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). "It's a safety issue and it is a jobs issue with respect to the repairing all of these structures that need attention."