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Kirk rips Rendell for missing meeting

| Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mon Valley Progress Council Executive Director Joe Kirk is clearly frustrated by Gov. Ed Rendell's leadership on transportation funding issues.

"If he truly wanted to get this (funding) done, he would have been here," Kirk said in an interview at the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association luncheon attended by about 150 contractors, consultants, industry leaders and state and federal officials.

"The governor missed a golden opportunity" to reach out to a captive audience with considerable influence with lawmakers, Kirk said. "He could have addressed the people who can make a difference. You can't say transportation funding is a priority and not take aggressive action."

Kirk is a member of the PHIA board of directors and, as the Progress Council's point man, he has been a leading advocate of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway.

He implored a number of officials at the conference to do more to influence the next round of federal transportation legislation to help Pennsylvania by permitting the tolling of interstates, not "for profit" but to alleviate PennDOT of the high costs of maintaining major routes for out-of-state traffic.

Kirk also lobbied for provisions in the law to require the Federal Highway Administration to provide a far greater share of funding for the local expressway and beltway projects in Fayette, Washington and Allegheny counties.

Although the limited-access highways are built to interstate standards, advance economic development and improve overall transportation, the federal government has contributed less than $75 million toward about $2 billion invested in the projects thus far.

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