Saturday, July 12, 2014

OUR OPINION: IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Use lottery game to patch Pa. roads

January 19. 2014 11:50PM
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Would it be a good idea to …

… devote a Pennsylvania Lottery instant game toward raising money for road repairs, helping to rid the state’s highways of dastardly potholes and other problems associated with poor maintenance?

Devise and market a special scratch-off ticket specifically to take the jolt out of motorists’ journeys. A caller this week to WILK-FM’s “The Sue Henry Show,” who identified himself as Matt from Nicholson, pitched the notion of a “Pennsylvania Pothole” game.

Players would win big if, for instance, their scratch-off cards revealed three shovels. Or maybe two hardhats and a “Bridge Open” sign. The real prize, however, would be for people disgusted by the crummy conditions of certain major roads, which too often result in costly repairs to vehicles’ bodies, suspension systems and tires. Plus, the task of keeping these thoroughfares in top condition would provide more jobs for road crews and affiliated businesses.

We haven’t test-driven this idea past the experts at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or at the Lottery headquarters. Today, we want to know what you think.

Historically, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s ample take on its numbers and instant games has been targeted to easing financial burdens of the Keystone State’s older residents via property tax and rent rebates, prescription drug programs and senior centers. The annual payout for such purposes recently exceeded $1 billion.

A gaping hole that temporarily closed a lane of traffic on Interstate 81 in Plains Township last week, however, emphasizes the ongoing issues related to road upkeep. It’s widely recognized by Pennsylvania drivers that the quality of well-traveled road surfaces abruptly changes for the better when hopping across the border to Maryland or even to the equally snow-and-ice-prone New York State.

Granted, Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed a multibillion-dollar transportation bill, presumably putting many improvement projects on the fast track this spring.

A dedicated lottery game, however, might consistently provide revenue for hot patch and line paint, regardless of lawmakers’ whims from year to year.

If a pothole-specific game proved popular, perhaps a scratch-off series could be developed with an auto theme: “Smooth Sailing” and “Easy Street.” At convenience stores, people pumping gas might gravitate toward those games. And would the lottery dare consider new retailers, such as tire shops and garages providing alignments?

In your opinion, did the radio caller who suggested a “Pennsylvania Pothole” game hit the jackpot? Or is this concept a loser? Give us your feedback by sending a letter the editor or posting comments to this editorial at or

Likewise, share your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”

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