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House GOP blew it

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives should be ashamed of itself for its inability to pass a comprehensive transportation bill that would have dedicated $2.5 billion to fix our deplorable roads and decrepit bridges. Every time a car carrying a family crosses a bridge in Pennsylvania, drivers must wonder just how safe it is.

The state's secretary of Transportation recently announced he would begin posting weight limits on even more crumbling bridges. With more than 5,000 structurally deficient bridges already, this is the last thing Pennsylvania's families need.

The House blew it. That chamber is controlled by Republicans, whose majority leader is Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods. Last month, Turzai did the unthinkable by tying booze to bridges.

Instead of urging his members to put up the necessary votes for a meaningful transportation bill, Turzai played a stunning game of “chicken” with the Senate — also controlled by Republicans — to get privatization of the state's liquor stores in exchange.

That's not leadership. Holding Pennsylvania's roads and bridges hostage is callous, shortsighted and foolish. Inaction is inexcusable and also hurts our workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, $1 billion worth of investment creates 27,800 jobs. Thanks to Turzai, nearly 70,000 jobs will remain on the shelf.

Turzai and his Republican colleagues need a wake-up call and should be held accountable for their failure to act in the best interests of all Pennsylvanians.

Philip Ameris

The writer is president-business manager of the Laborers' District Council of Western Pennsylvania (laborpa.org).

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