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Auditor General Jack Wagner Releases DVD Highlighting State’s Crumbling Bridges to Media, Political and Civic Leaders
New phase of effort to get state to pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 18, 2012 – Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that he is mailing out almost 300 copies of a DVD of coverage from his visits to structurally deficient Pennsylvania bridges to media outlets and leaders of labor and industry across the commonwealth in an effort to get the General Assembly and Corbett Administration to make passage of a comprehensive transportation and infrastructure bill their No. 1 legislative priority this fall.
"Each day that passes without an infrastructure bill moves us one step closer to a safety catastrophe,” Wagner said. “Passage of an infrastructure bill not only will make our roads and bridges safer, it will address the single most important issue to all Pennsylvanians – jobs – by putting thousands of people back to work.”
Wagner said he was mailing the eight-minute DVD to civic leaders to ask them to pressure their state representatives to take action on infrastructure. The DVD highlights structurally deficient bridges in every region of the commonwealth. Among the structural flaws the DVD showcases: cracked concrete supports on bridges in Harrisburg and Philadelphia; significant rust and deterioration on bridges in Pittsburgh and Johnstown and gaping potholes on a bridge in Scranton.
Wagner said that Pennsylvania has almost 6,000 structurally deficient bridges and 8,452 miles of highway rated as poor, and that the longer Harrisburg 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 report said 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 a decline in fuel tax revenue due to vehicle efficiency, reduced buying power due to inflation, and the Pennsylvania State Police’s consuming a bigger slice of the Motor License Fund.
In 2011, Gov. Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission released a report that included funding proposals to bring in $2.5 billion per year for infrastructure projects, including taking a cap off the oil company franchise tax.
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 of the 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 new permanent, family-sustaining jobs.
"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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