PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thanks to those higher gas fees at the pump, PennDOT will soon have a billion dollars more each year to spend on roads and bridges.
So, Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch is on tour.
“When I get out and take a tour of sites like this – to see what local government is doing, what investments have already been made, where the priorities are for our district priorities as well as legislative priorities – that helps put the program together,” Schoch said.
KDKA’s Jon Delano was invited to join Schoch, Sen. Matt Smith and Rep. Mark Mustio as they toured several local communities, poured over maps and drawings and talked to local officials about road and bridge priorities, like the crumbling Aiden Road Bridge in Findlay.
“We now have to do annual inspections,” said Findlay Township Manager Gary Klingman. “We’ve lowered the weight limit twice. So, we know it’s inevitable that at some point that could occur that we have to close the bridge.”
But with so many needs, the challenge is choosing what gets fixed first.
“The primary focus is public safety, so our investment is going to be in public safety,” said Schoch. “It’s bridges like this that there’s a danger if we don’t make an investment, it’ll be in intersection, it’ll be in pavement where we know that we’ve got high accident locations.”
Repairs to the Liberty Bridge and the Birmingham Bridge will be obvious to many. But Schoch says work this spring will be everywhere.
“It’s going to be in a high number of bridge projects, a lot of intersection improvements,” he said. “You’re going to see relief from recurring congestions simply by improving the intersection and the signal associated with it.”
For local communities, like Ohio Township, with a congested Mount Nebo Road project, a visit like the one Friday is key.
“I think it means action,” said Ohio Township Manager John Sullivan.
And for legislators like Smith and Mustio, who voted for the funding bill…
KDKA’s Jon Delano: “Is this the other side of the equation?”
Mustio: “This absolutely is.”
Smith: “What we’re doing is we have to make the sale to Secretary Shoch that these projects are the most worthwhile.”