The legislature was unable to agree on a transportation funding package before the summer session break. Now, lawmakers have been told that the consequences are coming soon.
State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch told the state senate Transportation committee during a hearing Wednesday that the lack of additional funding will mean fewer contracts let this year and more restrictions on aging state and locally owned bridges.
PennDOT structural engineers are evaluating over one thousand state owned bridges and Schoch says there are an equal number of locally owned bridges that are also candidates for weight restrictions. He expects about half of the bridges will see new restrictions starting this summer
Schoch says they have no choice with no new funding for reconstruction and replacement.
Schoch says the restrictions will mean longer commutes for haulers, school buses and emergency vehicles. He also told the transportation committee that even if lawmakers approve a funding plan in the fall, this construction season will already have been lost for projects that might have been started with the additional money.
In other testimony, an analysis by the American Road and Transportation Builders Alliance says fewer contracts could cost the state’s economy more than one billion over five years and jeopardize thousands of jobs.
The organization’s chief economist adds that commuters, first responders, school buses and trucks cross structurally deficit bridges in Pennsylvania an average of 51.5 million times per day.