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Auditor General Jack Wagner Calls for Infrastructure Investment to Improve Public Safety, Create Jobs
Delaying bridge and road repairs will cost taxpayers billions more down the road
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 25, 2011 – Auditor General Jack Wagner today called for increased investment in Pennsylvania's crumbling roads and bridges, saying that new spending would improve public safety and the state's economic competitiveness while creating thousands of new jobs for out-of-work Pennsylvanians.
"Americans are tired of having their hard-earned dollars being spent to build roads and bridges in Afghanistan and Iraq while the bridges in their neighborhood are posted with weight restrictions,” Wagner said. “I urge the General Assembly to stop debating issues that the public cares little about and focus on those that they do -- like infrastructure and jobs.”
Wagner noted that two recent independent surveys rated Pennsylvania's bridges as the worst in the nation and the commonwealth's roads as the eighth-worst.
According to Gov. Corbett's Transportation Advisory Commission, Pennsylvania has 5,205 bridges that are rated structurally deficient, and it has 8,452 miles of highway that are rated as poor.
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. Last year, the Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) produced a report that quantified the state’s unfunded transportation needs at approximately $3.5 billion. That gap is projected to double in 10 years, to $7.2 billion, if nothing is done.
Infrastructure investment is supported by many state business organizations, Wagner noted, including the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and the PA Motor Truck Association.
Robert Latham, chairman of Transportation Construction Industries, 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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