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Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As the General Assembly grapples with how to fund Pennsylvania's deteriorating transportation assets, the Westmoreland County business community would like to weigh in.

Nobody relishes the notion of a fee increase or higher prices at the pump. However, the alternative — continued erosion of infrastructure and inability to provide safer roadways and new capacity — presents greater long-term costs. Facilitating the free flow of goods to the marketplace along with citizens' mobility for business and recreational activities is a core function of government.

Keeping up with routine maintenance of existing infrastructure and targeted expansion — most notably, projects like the Laurel Valley Improvement Project at Route 981 — will require a massive shift of spending priorities for existing revenue or altogether new funding. Paramount to any plan that includes increased funding, transportation officials must be held accountable to identify increased efficiency and innovation to stretch every dollar to its limit.

Our respective organizations unite their voices in support of a comprehensive, long-term, sustainable, multimodal solution. It remains imperative for Pennsylvania to get its transportation house in order with routine maintenance and necessary safety enhancements. At the same time, expansion projects present an opportunity to make Westmoreland County a more attractive place to live and do business.

We recognize that the right decision is not always the most popular one. So we emphatically voice our support to elected officials on this tough issue and encourage the General Assembly to pass a fiscally responsible increase to transportation funding without delay.

Chad Amond, Jason Rigone & Jim Smith

The writers are, respectively, Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce president, Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. executive director and Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland County president and CEO.

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