When an eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota carrying Interstate 35 across the Mississippi River collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people, the nation turned closer attention to aging infrastructure.
Structurally imperfect bridges in poor condition have been found throughout the United States. Engineers knew this, and after the disaster in Minneapolis, it became necessary to finance the repair of these bridges.
Pennsylvania has made progress.
“There are currently 2,433 public bridges in Pennsylvania in poor condition, up from over 6,000 in 2008,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Alexis Campbell told The Epoch Times.
There are over 25,400 state bridges in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania will now receive $1.6 billion from the federal infrastructure bill to continue bridge repairs.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Philadelphia on Friday to announce Pennsylvania’s massive reduction in the largest investment ever made in bridge repairs, i.e. $26.5 billion for the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over five years and 825 million dollars for Tribal Transportation. Facilities.
In fiscal year 2022, $5.3 billion will be available to the states and $165 million to the tribes.
“The bridge formula program we’re launching today is the largest dedicated highway bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate Highway System itself,” Buttigieg said at a press conference under the closed Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge for repairs. “Reflecting this administration’s commitment to regional justice, it also includes an incentive to use funds to repair what we call ‘off-system bridges’, which are mostly owned by local governments and sometimes the last to receive support. We see this both in the countryside and in our largest cities. So for these off-system bridges, we are going to abandon the traditional 80/20 split between federal and local communities and cover 100% of the costs.”
Gov. Tom Wolf, US Senator Bob Casey, US Rep. Dwight Evans, and Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmine Gramian expressed gratitude for the funding.
Gramian said PennDOT faces an $8.1 billion funding gap each year.
“We are extremely grateful for the additional funds we are receiving from the federal government,” Gramian said during a press conference. “We last saw an increase in 1993, and we are very grateful to the Biden and Harris administration for this new source of funding. But that’s $8.1 billion that’s needed for funding.”
This means more funding solutions need to be found, and a plan to toll nine bridges across Pennsylvania is still under review.
“We are looking at how we will continue to pay for infrastructure. We used to do this with fossil fuel taxes. They become less efficient at making money, so we have to come up with something else,” Wolf said. “We would have preferred a contractor to provide us with bridges and roads for free, but we haven’t found anyone in Pennsylvania to do that, so we have to come up with an alternative, and bridge toll is an alternative, and I think we are all open.” for any alternatives to this. But we need to pay for these things.”
Gasoline tax in Pennsylvania is 58.7 cents per gallon; plus 18.3 cents per gallon goes to the federal government. The Wolf and Biden administrations are phasing out this stream of gas tax funding by forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles, but future administrations will have to figure out how to fill the financial hole that these mandates will create.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection intends to require new medium- and heavy-duty pickups sold in 2030 to account for at least 30 percent of the zero-emission (electric) vehicle market by 2030, and 100 percent of pickups by 2050.
Biden’s goal of 50 percent of all new cars being electric by 2030 is in line with the auto industry’s commitment.