In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill into law this week that authorizes the state to borrow $350 million to quicken repairs on more than 400 bridges throughout the state.
The General Assembly approved legislation a week ago as part of the budget process that allows the state to address the backlog of about 6,000 state-owned bridges determined to be structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The total expenditure to make fixes would be more than $11 billion.
There are 411 bridge projects that will be financed out of the bond issue. Combined with existing state and federal funds, the borrowed money will allow Pennsylvania to spend $1.7 billion on bridge repairs this year.
Rendell said the state would advance toward adequate funding of needed bridge and road repairs partly through a lease deal for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Turning over the roadway to a private group could bring in $12.8 billion for the state, the governor said.
To this point, few lawmakers are willing to advocate legislation that would allow private operators to take over control of the mainline of the Turnpike and the Northeast Extension.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, recently opted to sideline a bill that would authorize a lease deal. The decision effectively kills the effort.
The list of bridges to get attention with the bond issue is broken down by county and posted under the “Rebuild PA Bridges” button at www.dot.state.pa.us. The tab is located at the lower right hand corner of the main page.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor