This week, State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) stood underneath the Midvale Avenue bridge at SEPTA’s East Falls station with one message: Transit infrastructure repairs must be made a priority in Pennsylvania.
“About one third of Pennsylvania’s bridges are structurally deficient; they are obsolete,” Hughes said. “Systems are falling apart, people are not safe and thousands of people could be working [on transit improvement projects] but aren’t right now.”
Hughes joined SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey at the East Falls site on Monday morning to address the agency’s needs and survey the condition of the decades-old bridge on Midvale Avenue.
“If you walk around you could see the cracks in the walls of that train stop,” Hughes said. “If you walk underneath you could see where the concrete has fallen off.”
According to a press release from Hughes’ office, plans for a $10 million upgrade at the station include a new station building, high-level platforms, renovated pedestrian tunnel and improvements to parking, landscaping and stormwater management. But those plans have been put on hold due to lack of funding.
“Even though we’ve got an administration that produced a commission that says work needs to be done, there’s no work actually being done,” Hughes said. “We need the administration to take a much more active and engaged issue on this.”
Hughes points to the Marcellus Shale tax proposal as a possible source of funding for infrastructure projects such as the one waiting to be completed in East Falls. He adds that getting infrastructure projects moving will not only help to prevent a major crisis, but will spur job growth, as well.
“The number one issue is jobs; there’s no more important issue than putting people back to work,” he said.
Hughes recently hosted an Infrastructure Summit at Temple University that highlighed the need for infrastructure funding. He says he’ll continue to keep pushing on the issue until it gets the attention it deserves.