The need for a comprehensive transportation funding solution for Pennsylvania was highlighted last week when officials toured weight-restricted Bucks County bridges that, if left unfixed, could cut-off major arteries serving two communities.
On Thursday, Nov. 7, State Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) and PennDOT Executive Deputy Sec. Bradley L. Mallory met in Sellersville with borough officials there as well as neighboring Perkasie, and SEPTA representatives, to discuss transportation issues impacting the region, and to call for legislative action on a comprehensive plan.
The officials also examined the N. Main Street bridges over the Perkiomen Creek and SEPTA tracks. These spans need to be rehabilitated or replaced, but there is currently no money available for the projects.
â€œThis real-life illustration is a reminder that many of our state bridges, highways, and mass transit systems are decaying and in need of immediate repair,â€ said the Representative.
Funding for these types of critical projects could come from a state transportation-funding bill, which is now before the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
â€œThe longer we wait to address problems such as these, the more expensive the eventual solution and the greater the potential for disruption to motorists,â€ Mallory said. â€œThe legislature can help us deal with these issues by simply voting â€˜yesâ€™ on a solution. This is not just a matter of personal convenience â€“ itâ€™s about safety, our livelihoods, economic competiveness and our quality of life.â€
During the tour, SEPTA representatives also noted the Authorityâ€™s capital funding is at a 15-year low, while ridership is hitting all-time highs. These gains, however, could be lost â€“ and thousands of riders left without public transportation â€“ without adequate funding to address critical needs, such as fixing century-old bridges, and replacing rail cars that are already nearly 40 years old. Without a new funding stream, next year SEPTA will be forced to begin implementing a Service Realignment Plan that will result in significant service reductions, such as the elimination of nine Regional Rail lines, over the next 10 years.
â€œWe do not want to eliminate service, however, our first priority is maintaining a safe transit system,â€ said SEPTA Deputy General Mgr. Jeffrey Knueppel. â€œWithout funding for these critical repairs, weâ€™ll have no choice but to shrink the SEPTA system.â€
Clymer and the transportation officials who gathered in Sellersville said they remain optimistic that action will be taken to avert these types of cuts and the negative impact they would bring to residents throughout the state.
This week, the Pennsylvania General Assembly resumed discussions on a proposed transportation funding bill, which passed in the Pennsylvania Senate this spring by a 45-5 vote. Transportation officials are hopeful the House will vote on the matter before adjourning for the year.
Gov. Tom Corbett has made transportation funding one of the top priorities of his administration, and has called on the Legislature to act in a bipartisan effort to approve a comprehensive plan for him to sign.