PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One sector of the economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic has been the transportation sector.
And that includes airports, public transit, highways and bridges.
In an interview seen only on KDKA, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao was asked if her Department was doing enough to help this region.
Chao insists the CARES Act is helping local agencies.
“Seventy-six billion was given to the transportation system. In particular in Pennsylvania, we have done a great deal,” Chao told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
With fewer travelers than ever, Pittsburgh International Airport has taken a hit. The feds have helped, so far, to the tune of $36 million. But is it enough?
“It’s never enough,” says Chao.
What about airport infrastructure funds, like the new terminal construction at PIT.
“That is part of the overall infrastructure discussion that we need to be having, but clearly airports are important,” Chao said.
As for public transit, the Port Authority has received $141 million, much of it for payroll and maintenance.
Chao says buses and the T must be clean and safe.
“We want to make sure they are ready to take on returning passengers when the economy comes back,” Chao said.
With fewer people driving, the Feds and the Commonwealth have lost millions of dollars in gasoline taxes.
PennDOT may be down as much as $400 million in maintenance funds this year.
“Our budget provides about $46 billion annually that is dispersed to the states,” says Chao.
That’s true, but it’s normal assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
So far, there has been no pandemic relief money for our highways and bridges.