State lawmakers should pass a bill proposed by state Rep. Stephen Bloom that would prioritize bridge repairs over other transportation projects. The proposal would direct the state Department of Transportation to pay for repairs on bridges that recently were given tighter weight restrictions. Bloom says he’s worried that first responders would be slowed because their heavy equipment might not meet the new restrictions.
He’s right, and PennDOT should put the kibosh on any project it can safely stall to address that problem.
Getting PennDOT to do that, though, would take an act of state lawmakers.
On Wednesday, Bloom announced the bill. It would require PennDOT to place critical bridge repairs over other construction projects, be that a highway reconstruction program or bike paths. He makes a reasonable argument that “we need to focus on the must-haves rather than the nice-to-haves. I am not trying to say that all the other areas of transportation spending are unimportant.”
Bloom stresses that some heavy equipment used by emergency responders, be it fire engines or some ambulances, would not meet the new weight requirements on some 1,000 bridges across Pennsylvania.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said weight restrictions were tightened because PennDOT’s funding remains in doubt. The legislature failed earlier this year to agree on a comprehensive transportation spending plan.
If state lawmakers can’t agree on a transportation spending plan, they at least should agree that Bloom’s bill is right on the mark.
The Sentinel, Carlisle