Corbett transportation plan draws kudos, complaints
Democratic legislators on Wednesday panned Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to boost funding for Pennsylvania's crumbling transportation system and said local business leaders aren't doing enough to draw attention to the problem.
But a Port Authority of Allegheny County executive said the financially challenged transit agency could stay afloat in the short term without more new funding — thanks partly to an annual $30 million funding boost it got last year from Corbett's administration.
“We could probably sustain service at current levels for the next two years,” Port Authority Assistant General Manager Michael Cetra said at a state House Democratic Policy Committee hearing in Station Square.
Cetra said the solid financial footing would be short-lived as the agency would face a $15 million operating deficit three years from now if transit funding doesn't grow.
“We'd be back in that death spiral” of service reductions and related job cuts, Cetra said. The agency cut service 15 percent in 2011 and narrowly avoided a 35 percent reduction last year, closing a $64 million deficit with the $30 million state boost it received in exchange for sweeping worker concessions and added local contributions.
Cetra and other local transportation leaders who testified detailed some of the region's most pressing infrastructure problems, including crumbling roads and bridges and diminished transit service.
Corbett's plan to generate up to $1.8 billion annually for transportation within five years could net Port Authority an extra $9 million in the first year and $56 million by the fifth, based on projections. The extra money could enable Port Authority to restore some lost service, Cetra said.
Democratic legislators said Corbett's plan falls short. They noted a Corbett-appointed commission in 2011 proposed ways to generate an added $2.7 billion annually for transportation — a plan they said they support. Even it falls short of meeting the state's needs, estimated at an extra $3.5 billion a year.
“I'd characterize it as a lack of leadership,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill.
Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts said the governor wanted to “provide a plan that is reasonable and is balanced with what taxpayers can do,” noting he'd “work with legislators to come up with a plan that fully realizes our needs.”
Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, criticized business leaders.
“I don't understand why the business community isn't up in Harrisburg telling the governor we need more funding for transportation,” DeLuca said.
Allegheny Conference on Community Development Vice President Ken Zapinski said many executives are working both publicly and behind the scenes to persuade state leaders that more funding is needed.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- National Weather Service predicts up to 7 inches of snow before Sunday night
- Burial set for remains of World War II soldier from Perrysville
- More departments in region eye equipping officers with Narcan to treat overdoses
- Faithful stand together in Wilkinsburg
- New Monroeville Mall policy aims to tame teen shoppers
- Region tied 81-year-old record low Saturday
- Port Authority focusing on natural-gas bus fleet for proposed rapid transit line
- Black Pittsburghers still challenged in education, workforce, housing
- Pittsburgh police chief: Officers, public must unite against violence
- McCandless mortgage broker company president charged with bank fraud conspiracy
- 3-alarm fire burns Hill District row homes