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Improving Pennsylvania's highways and bridges

August 27, 2007
By Senator Jake Corman (R-Centre)
	The recent tragedy in Minneapolis where a major highway bridge

collapsed, killing several people and injuring many more, brought the

safety of our nation's public bridges and highways under the microscope.

Last month, Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation into law that

devotes $317 million to fixing our state's ailing mass transit system,

with some funding for highway and bridge maintenance. Unfortunately,

the Governor's plan falls short by not addressing new state highway and

bridge needs for the rest of Pennsylvania.

There are many needs in central and western Pennsylvania for new

and expanded highways to deal with safety and traffic volume concerns.

Specifically in the 34th Senatorial District, the South Central Centre

County Transportation Study, which makes 322 four lanes in Centre County

and the I-99 / I-80 interchange remain unfunded, as does the Central

Susquehanna Valley Thruway, the four-lane highway around Lewisburg and

Shamokin Dam in Union County.

All of these projects, and many more like them Central and

Western Pennsylvania, need serious attention, but without a dedicated

source of funding they will remain at a complete standstill. Further,

not one of these projects will be completed as a result of the bill the

Governor just signed; a bill that I opposed. That is because this

flawed legislation did not have one penny dedicated to new roads and


In order to fund these important projects, we need to think beyond the

customary approach of simply relying on taxpayer dollars and examine

what successful strategies have worked in other states.

I believe Pennsylvania's roadways can benefit from the many advantages

of public-private partnerships (PPPs), which are contractual agreements

between the state and a private sector entity in which both parties

contribute towards improving the state's transportation system.

Currently, 21 states have passed legislation providing the legal

authority for PPP's to address public transportation needs.

PPP's essentially create a win-win situation for all parties by

contractually creating specific roles, risks and rewards for each entity

involved. This incentive-based system naturally motivates all parties

to achieve maximum performance while remaining flexible and cooperative

to produce positive results.

The benefits to the state, the private partners and the citizens

include: faster project completion times reducing inconvenient

construction delays, improved roadway quality through the use of

innovative materials and collaborative planning, the use of private

resources in place of taxpayer dollars, and project cost savings.

It is only through innovative attempts such as this that we who reside

outside of the Philadelphia area can see increased capacity and new

highways for safer travel. I am committed to this course of action

because we must find a solution for the ever decreasing pots of money

for new highway construction.

I truly believe that PPP's can have a significant, positive impact on

Pennsylvania's highway and bridge infrastructure. This fall I will be

orchestrating a working group of like-minded senators to develop

legislation that would grant authority for PPP's in Pennsylvania.

I am looking for: