Auditor General Jack Wagner Says PA Motorists 10 Times More Likely to Pass Deficient Bridge than a McDonald’s
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Halvonik 717 787-1381
Auditor General Jack Wagner Says PA Motorists 10 Times
More Likely to Pass Deficient Bridge than a McDonald’s
Renews call for Gov. Corbett, General Assembly to pass infrastructure bill
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 11, 2012 – Pennsylvania motorists are 10 times more likely to pass a structurally deficient bridge than a McDonald’s restaurant, said Auditor General Jack Wagner, who today renewed his call for Gov. Corbett and the General Assembly to make passage of a comprehensive transportation and infrastructure bill their No. 1 legislative priority this spring.
Noting recent studies that rated Pennsylvania’s bridges as the worst in the nation and the commonwealth’s roads as the eighth-worst in the United States, Wagner said, “It’s time for our elected officials to stop wasting their time and focus on the things that Pennsylvanians care about most – unsafe roads and bridges and a lack of well-paying middle-class jobs. A comprehensive transportation bill would address both concerns. It would improve our highways while putting tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians back to work.”
Wagner spoke at a press conference under the Mulberry Street Bridge in Harrisburg – one of almost 6,000 Pennsylvania bridges classified as structurally deficient by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. (That compares with 530 McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania, according to the company’s Web site.)
Opened in 1909 and used by 10,000 vehicles a day, the Mulberry Street Bridge is one of 72 structurally deficient bridges in Dauphin County. Its deficiencies include a deteriorated deck and cracks in the facades of the concrete support arches. A nylon net was placed under the bridge deck in 2008 to prevent loose concrete from falling on traffic on Cameron Street, which passes under the bridge. There are currently no weight restrictions on the bridge.
A PennDOT official said that there are plans to repair the 1,600-foot-long Mulberry Street Bridge, but no start date has been set because of limited funds.
State and local officials placed restrictions on three bridges last week. They were:
- U.S Route 422 westbound over the Shenango River in Lawrence County
- Spring Lane Bridge, Carroll Township, York County
- Township Road bridge, Springfield Township, Bucks County
In addition to the almost 6,000 structurally deficient bridges, Pennsylvania has 8,452 miles of highway rated as poor, according to Gov. Corbett’s Transportation Advisory Commission.
Wagner said that the longer Pennsylvania delays in making infrastructure investment, the more it will cost taxpayers.
In November 2006, Gov. Ed Rendell’s Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission identified a $1.7 billion annual shortfall in funding for the commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure and mass transit services. In 2010, Gov. Rendell’s State Transportation Advisory Committee produced a report that estimated the state’s unfunded transportation needs at approximately $3.5 billion. The gap is growing and will reach an estimated $7.2 billion in 10 years if nothing is done. The gap is growing because of continued decline in fuel tax revenue due to vehicle efficiency, reduced buying power due to inflation, and increasing costs of the Pennsylvania State Police consuming a bigger slice of the Motor License Fund.
Infrastructure investment is supported by many state business organizations, Wagner noted, including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.
Robert Latham, Executive Vice President, Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, testified before a state House panel in June 2010 that a $2 billion increase in transportation infrastructure spending could lead to the creation of as many as 50,000 jobs.
Inadequate infrastructure is not only a threat to Pennsylvania, but it’s a major issue for the nation, Wagner said.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. needs to invest $2.2 trillion to repair highway, transit and water projects after years of neglect. In 2010 alone, the deficiencies in America’s roads, bridges, and transit systems cost U.S. households and businesses more than $129 billion.
“The time has come to stop putting off infrastructure investment,” Wagner said. “Not only would infrastructure investment improve public safety, reduce traffic bottlenecks and enhance our economic competitiveness, it would also help address the issue of greatest concern to all Pennsylvanians: jobs.”
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts thousands of audits each year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
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