HARRISBURG — Lawmakers in Harrisburg are running out of time to pass a bill this year that would fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
The General Assembly was back in session Tuesday and has little more than a week to hammer out a deal to pay for improvements that are badly needed.
Pennsylvania has nearly 40,000 miles of roads and 25,000 bridges that are all maintained by the Commonwealth and in many cases, that infrastructure is in need of repairs.
Even near Selinsgrove, Snyder County, a long-awaited thruway project hinges on lawmakers in Harrisburg hammering out a deal to pay for the state’s transportation needs.
“We realize the importance of it, there’s a lot of discussion going on, there’s just a matter of how much money do we need to raise and how do we raise that money,” said State Representative Fred Keller, a Republican from Snyder County.
Keller supports paying for the roughly $2 billion plan to fix the roads with gasoline taxes.
“More than likely, the majority of it will get passed onto the taxpayers,” added Keller.
That seems to be the consensus with lawmakers on the other side of the aisle as well. State Representative Kevin Haggerty, a Democrat from Lackwanna County, thinks taxpayers should be willing to pay a little more to make the roads safe.
“They better be, because if they’re not concerned about children driving in cars with parents, and going to daycares and schools, and transported in buses. There’s something wrong with them,” said Haggerty.
Governor Tom Corbett has been calling for the transportation bill, which the Senate passed back in June.
Now, the house has an amended version of the multi-billion dollar proposal that it could vote on as early as this week.
Calls for the legislature to pass a bill, and pass one now, are coming from all over.
On Twitter, in newspaper op-eds, and from unions operatives who are visiting lawmakers, writing lawmaker, all to get funding and get construction workers to work on fixing the roads.
“We know there’s a need for transportation funding, and it should be to the tune of 4 billion dollars, that’s what we really need,” said Frank Sirianni, president of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council.
There are just ten days left in this year’s legislative session, just a total of ten days to come up with a way to pay for Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repairs.