Policy Hearing: Bridges to Harrisburg

Policy Committee identifies opportunity for sustained funding and technological advances for infrastructure in Pittsburgh region

PITTSBURGH, March 8 – Pittsburgh is home to 446 of the Commonwealth’s bridges and in the wake of the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse, the region is top of mind for lawmakers in Harrisburg. To examine the status of the region’s bridges, identify the tools we have and need to maintain them, and assess the proper amount of funding needed, Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, the Pa. House Policy Committee, and lawmakers gathered in Pittsburgh for a hearing.

Frankel thanked the expert testifiers and noted that that the construction site below where the bridge once stood has become a symbol throughout the country of the need to fund and prioritize infrastructure.

“My hope is that the unforgettable images of our Port Authority bus dangling from a crane will flash through the minds of my Republican colleagues the next time they refuse to even consider working across the aisle to meet Pennsylvania’s basic needs,” Frankel said. 

Lawmakers heard from members of the Pittsburgh community, local and county-level elected officials, regional transit executives, and infrastructure technology providers during a hearing at Frick Museum.

“It’s time for real and meaningful infrastructure investment in this country and in this city,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. “The people of Pittsburgh are tired of empty promises, the people of Pittsburgh are waiting for the help we need, the people of Pittsburgh deserve investments so traveling to and from work doesn’t mean risking everything. We have the technology, we just need the investment. Let’s make it happen.”

The Port Authority of Allegheny County shared that public transit depends on bridges on virtually every bus route taking Pittsburghers to work. Local and county administrators highlighted how federal dollars would go a long way to funding the necessary investments to modernize and maintain the bridges in the region.

“Last month Pittsburgh experienced the risks of deteriorating infrastructure, firsthand.  Aging roads and bridges are a danger to public safety and can hurt local economies,” House Democratic Leader, Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware said. “Today’s hearing offered valuable perspective on how aging infrastructure is a threat to communities across the commonwealth and why the legislature can’t afford to wait for another tragedy to act.”

“Our caucus is squarely focused on making long and sustained investment in Pennsylvania’s infrastructure,” said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, Chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. “Today’s hearing is proof that this funding is long overdue, and we need to stop playing politics and get this done for Pennsylvanians.” 

Information about this hearing and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee.