New data released Nov. 14 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and TRIP show the deteriorating conditions of the surface transportation infrastructure system in Pennsylvania is worsening, and families and businesses continue to feel the impact. Closing the investment gap in the state’s surface transportation infrastructure will grow Pennsylvania’s economy, save jobs and protect personal income.
“Failing to invest in Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges and transit systems has a dramatic negative impact on the state and national economy,” said Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE, president of ASCE. “This data underscores the need for state and national policymakers to make smart, long-term investments in infrastructure.”
By 2020, ASCE projects the consequences of these conditions will cost the U.S. economy $897 billion in lost gross domestic product and $28 billion in exports as transportation costs rise. The recent surface transportation bill adopted by Congress addresses spending in only the next two years, and it fails to fill the current funding gap.
“While addressing Pennsylvania’s need for a safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation system will require a significant boost in investment, failing to act will result in even greater costs,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Smart investments in transportation policies relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions and enhance economic productivity.”
Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and Gov. Tom Corbett are expected to consider transportation funding solutions early next year. According to the 2010 Pennsylvania Transportation Advisory Committee report the state has a funding gap of about $3.5 billion per year, and a governor’s commission has presented recommendations that would reduce that by about $2.5 billion per year.
“The public opinion research we’ve conducted has shown repeatedly that people are willing to make a modest investment in order to have a safer and less congested transportation system,” said Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors. “The funding measures recommended by the 2011 Transportation Funding Advisory Commission would create about 50,000 Pennsylvania jobs, with the majority of them in industries other than highway construction.”
Due to the underinvestment in transportation in the Mid-Atlantic, data from ASCE shows that by 2020 productivity losses will cause the region to underperform by $83 billion and 279,000 jobs will be lost resulting in a drop in personal income of almost $300 billion if no action is taken.
“Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges and transit systems are critical links to ensuring a healthy economy,” said Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E., past president of ASCE and principal at Hardesty & Hanover, an infrastructure engineering firm. “State and local investment in key projects not only improves highway conditions in our state, but also creates good paying jobs.”
The latest information from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and TRIP shows pavement suffers from severe deterioration in Pennsylvania, and the effects of the conditions are acute:
- Vehicle travel on Pennsylvania’s highways increased by 17 percent from 1990 to 2010. The state’s population grew by 7 percent between 1990 and 2010.
- Thirty-four percent of Pennsylvania’s major urban highways are congested, and 56 percent of the state’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on roads in need of repair costs Pennsylvania motorists $3.2 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — an average of $373 per driver.
- Forty-two percent of Pennsylvania’s bridges (9,312) are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.