A new report ranks Pennsylvania dead-last when it comes to the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient.
The Transportation for America study shows nearly 27 percent of the state’s bridges–a total of nearly 6,000–have problems. Oklahoma is the runner-up, at 22 percent.
Gov. Tom Corbett acknowledged it’s a problem, but said funding repairs needs to take a back seat to the budget, right now.
“Are we trying to…find the funds for it? Yes. But I will go back, and you’ve heard me say it repeatedly: we inherited a $4.3 billion deficit that we have to resolve,” he said.
The governor wants to fund efforts through privatization, and blamed his predecessors for not acting to fix infrastructure problems.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell disputed that take, saying he put a lot of effort into fixing roadways, beginning with 2007’s Act 44.
“It was probably the most historic step in investment transportation funding in the history of the commonwealth,” he said. “We had a $400 million bond issue that I pushed through for our bridges, as you recall. Even before that $400 million bridge initiative, I tripled the amount of spending on our bridges from $250 million to $750 million, on an annual basis.”
But the federal government rejected a key portion of Act 44’s funding plan when it denied a request to toll I-80. Rendell spent his final months in office urging lawmakers to pass a gas tax to fund infrastructure repair, but the initiative never gained momentum. He did, however, oversee over $1 billion in federal stimulus expenditures on roads and bridges in 2009 and 2010.