As most people here know, the federal government funded the original construction and upkeep of the interstate highway system and much of the state route system, which are the lifelines to Pennsylvania and its economy.
Yet, there is much more to be done. There's no shortage of economy-driving, job-creating transportation projects here in Pittsburgh that can help boost our local economy and vastly improve our daily lives. The benefits of infrastructure investment aren't a secret to Pittsburgh's voters.
Why would Congress ignore the opportunity here? In 2011, an economic study released by the nonpartisan American Society of Civil Engineers found that the nation's deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs and suppress the growth of the country's gross domestic product by $897 billion by 2020. If this situation isn't fixed, within 10 years U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000 and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion per year.
Since 2009, Congress has passed nine stop-gap extensions of the current surface transportation program instead of adopting a solid plan -- we're stuck waiting for them to act. As of today, both the U.S. House and Senate have passed different versions of a surface transportation reauthorization bill. Unless the two sides come to an agreement, the current extension will expire on June 30, putting thousands of jobs at risk and ensuring that our shaky economy remains in limbo.
Enough is enough. Our members of Congress need to know that we are paying attention to the partisan bickering and stalemate in Washington. Leaders who are in a position to make things happen, we are calling on you to support putting more Americans back to work by passing a transportation bill. Fixing Pittsburgh's roads and bridges is a clear path to economic recovery that we can all agree on.
ROBERT A. VICTOR
The writer is a member of the board of direction,American Society of Civil Engineers.
First Published June 22, 2012 12:00 AM