The U.S. Senate is expected to pass a bill this week that would commit funding for transportation projects for at least the next eight months.
But Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania appeared with transportation advocates in Philadelphia Monday to say that’s not enough.
A lot of numbers were thrown around by the government officials standing on the side of the road in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. Pennsylvania has more than 5,000 structurally deficient bridges, for instance, while Congress has passed 27 short-term extensions of transportation funding in just five years.
Casey said a long-term funding bill would allow cities and counties to start projects — knowing they’ll have enough money from the federal government to finish them.
“Wherever you go, whether it’s here, whether it’s Washington, or any other state, our roads and bridges are in need of repair,” Casey said.
Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards listed items from a backlog of public transportation projects she said cannot move ahead without a guarantee of federal funding, including rail station upgrades in Montgomery County and fleet upgrades for SEPTA buses.
“These are all projects that are needed,” she said. “These are not projects that we wish would happen because it would be nice.”
Richards said that, of paramount concern for residents of Montgomery County, “We must make sure we can get to and from everything, whether it’s a children’s baseball game, whether it’s a parent’s doctor appointment, we have to get there safely.”
As fuel efficiency has improved in cars, the federal government has ended up getting less from gas taxes, the biggest contributor to the Highway Trust Fund. However, legislators don’t ever want to raise the tax per gallon, especially in an election year.