Saccone defends bridge-repair funding proposal
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 1:06 a.m.
State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, defended the bill he's proposing to fund bridge repairs with revenue from state forest gas leases.
“If these bridges are structurally deficient, we need to deal with this right now,” Saccone said on Friday.
His House Bill 1681 has “nine or 10 co-sponsors” and he said he anticipates more before the General Assembly reconvenes on Sept. 23.
Saccone said leasing would raise $1.05 billion, or about twice what would be needed to restore the state's bridges.
He said the fund would be augmented by royalty fees of 16 percent of the marketable gas from wells on forest lands.
On Thursday, state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, listed Saccone's proposal among alternatives to consider while pressing for House passage of the omnibus Senate Bill 1.
But two state House members who joined Brewster on a tour of the W.D. Mansfield Memorial Bridge criticized Saccone's proposal.
“He voted against drilling and now he is for it?” asked Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg.
Saccone said Kortz may be referring to his vote against Act 13, which regulates gas drilling, establishes an impact fee assessed from drillers and restricts municipal zoning.
“I voted against Act 13 because of the zoning,” Saccone said. “All of the municipalities that I represent thought it was unconstitutional.”
Commonwealth Court struck down the zoning restrictions but the Supreme Court has taken no action since arguments in October.
“(Some of) the acreage he referenced isn't even in the Marcellus shale,” state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, said.
“It is a false conclusion,” Saccone said. “I only asked that 300,000 of the remaining 800,000 acres be opened. It is up to the (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) to specify which.”
Saccone reiterated his opinion that PennDOT did not need to post weight limitations on the Elizabeth Bridge.
“All they're talking about is extending the life of these bridges,” Saccone said. “Does that really have to be done right now?”
The three disagree over linking mass transit to bridges.
“The people of Pennsylvania are not in favor of putting much more money in mass transit and to couple it to bridges, even people here in my district don't want it,” Saccone said. “We need to look at a different way of funding mass transit and what form of mass transit do we want to take us into the future.”
“We need the bus service,” Kortz said, referring to his and Gergely's work to restore a run from Century Square in West Mifflin to the North Versailles Township Walmart.
The 55 Glassport run is a restoration of service cut while Stephen G. Bland was Port Authority's CEO.
“Steve Bland wasn't backing off,” Kortz said. “Now that he was terminated we were able to do it, with the help of (Port Authority senior government relations director) Dan DeBone and Sen. Brewster.”
There was bipartisan expressions of grief on Friday with news of the death of House Transportation Chairman Dick Hess, R-Bedford County.
“He was a good man,” said Kortz, who served with Hess on the Transportation Committee. “He wanted to get transportation done.”
Gov. Tom Corbett ordered all state flags lowered to half-staff until the day of Hess' funeral.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 5 Operation Pork Chop defendants sentenced to 5 years probation
- West Mifflin mayor seeks to use county airport ‘to its fullest potential’
- U.S. Steel presents tuition scholarship money for Catholic education
- Duquesne City School District in tug-of-war over contract proposal
- South Allegheny enters agreement for website advertising
- Munhall dispatch to switch to county 911 by end of May
- Forward officials announce furniture sale
- East Allegheny wins Kennywood’s Education Days contest
- 73-home subdivision plan approved for Westwood Golf Club
- Duquesne fire displaces 2 families
- State to provide materials for Duquesne sinkhole repair