Pennsylvania is at the center of the largest market in the world, and over the last several years our commonwealth has worked to make sure Pennsylvania’s infrastructure can move goods and products to market so Pennsylvania businesses can compete globally.
We’ve improved more than 18,000 miles of roadways, and we’re increasing our focus on lower volume, rural roads so all Pennsylvanians benefit from our efforts to improve roads, bridges and all infrastructure.
We’ve invested more than $300 million in our ports so we can be at the center of an economy that moves goods globally.
We’ve outlined a plan to deliver broadband to every Pennsylvanian.
Over the last five years, Pennsylvania has led the way on major infrastructure projects — and now to get to the next level, we need that same commitment from the federal government.
President Trump promised to make rebuilding the country’s infrastructure a key plank of his presidency, but in order to improve roads, rebuild bridges, and develop new infrastructure like broadband and high-speed rail, we need real federal investment.
While the president committed in the State of the Union Address to leverage partnerships with state and local governments, I am concerned that the president’s plan does not invest enough in our infrastructure to make a meaningful difference.
The president’s plan proposes to increase infrastructure spending by $200 billion with the goal of leveraging funding to achieve a $1.5 trillion total investment. However, experts say that his plan will not even come close to that: One analysis by the University of Pennsylvania found that the plan will fall more than $1.3 trillion short of its goal and will have “little to no impact on the economy.”
That simply won’t suffice.
Pennsylvania has the fifth-largest state-maintained highway network in the nation, the third-largest state-maintained bridge system, and has the second-highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. While many states, including Pennsylvania, have increased investments in our infrastructure, the federal government has not done the same, so we have tackled this challenge head on without appropriate federal support.
Since 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has completed 2,448 projects worth $5.4 billion and has an additional 743 projects worth $5.5 billion underway. Over the last three years, we’ve repaired or rebuilt 1,600 bridges and improved more than 18,000 miles of roadways.
We have also continued to make progress in reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges in the commonwealth, down to 3,114 as of Jan. 1, from a high of 6,034 in 2008.
Pennsylvania and other states need federal commitments to maintaining the solvency of Highway Trust Fund so the increased effort in recent years by states that have taken the initiative to increase funding is recognized.
Any infrastructure plan must invest beyond roads and bridges. While he was campaigning, the president frequently commented on the state of our airport terminals and the lack of high-speed rail. He’s talked about the importance of moving goods and people, but we need a stronger commitment to these efforts.
In Pennsylvania, we make annual investments in transit, aviation, rail freight and pedestrian and bicycle projects through dedicated sources of funds, putting the modes on a firmer footing for future initiatives.
Our multimodal investments support important projects that help residents and local economies. We are making possible improvements that will bring significant benefits to these communities.
This week, new cranes are being delivered to the port of Philadelphia as part of a $300 million investment by my administration.
As the White House and Congress work to fulfill their promises on infrastructure, it is essential that broadband expansion be part of that conversation. Unfortunately, the president’s recent modest 10-year plan makes broadband projects eligible for funding, but this is not sufficient without dedicated funding.
In today’s global economy, reliable and affordable access to broadband is vital to the way we live our lives.
As with many of our challenges, states must now step up on our own. That’s why this week, I outlined a plan to provide all Pennsylvanians access to broadband internet by 2022. But in order to achieve this goal, we need the federal government to step up.
In Pennsylvania, we’re going to keep investing in new infrastructure and fixing our roads and bridges because, as the Keystone State, we need to make sure our infrastructure is second to none. But we need the same commitment from the federal government — sooner rather than later.
• Gov. Tom Wolf is Pennsylvania’s 47th governor.
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