SCRANTON — Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) was in Scranton on Friday, calling on Congress to put more money toward repairing bridges.
As Pennsylvanians we’re used to emergency bridge repairs on the interstate, the talk of crumbling bridges that need to be replaced, but now the nation is getting to see our struggle with bad bridges.
A front page story on USA Today focused on a study showing Pennsylvania leads all states with percent of bridges needing repairs.
Tom Culkin wasn’t surprised seeing Pennsylania’s bridges are the worst.
“It’s not good, it’s not good, obviously,” Culkin said. “Every street, every block you go on there’s a pot hole. Every bridge you go on you can see the bridge is falling apart.”
While it may not surprise drivers that Pennsylvania is number one when it comes to bad bridges, political leaders say this national attention causes a lot more harm than just the rough ride.
“We want to lead the nation in job creation and growth and those kind of indicators. We don’t want to be number one in structurally deficient bridges, but that’s where we find ourselves,” Sen. Casey said.
Sen. Casey stood in front of a bridge needing repairs on Elm Street in Scranton to call on Congress to boost federal funding for bridge repairs. He said it’s tough to convince companies to relocate to this state if the roads are bad.
“We have a lot of interstates coming through the area. It’s a tremendous economic advantage which is undermined and badly damaged by having so many structurally deficient bridges.”
The head of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce echoed that challenge.
“If we’re in a situation that the existing businesses, the existing folks aren’t safe getting across those bridges, it’s that much tougher to try to bring people in from outside the area,” said chamber president Robert Durkin.
We’ve told you about how Pennsylvania lawmakers recently hiked taxes which raised the price of gasoline and other driving fees to help pay for road repairs, but almost half of the road work is funded by the federal government.
Congress has to pass funding for transportation by this fall.