Says Investment would help Avert Tragedy and Create Jobs

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Philadelphia, December 12, 2011 – State Senator Vincent J. Hughes and SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) General Manager Joseph M. Casey called for immediate action to address the agency’s transportation needs and repair infrastructure.

At a morning news conference at SEPTA’s East Falls Station, Hughes said the General Assembly should act quickly because repairing infrastructure not only prevents catastrophes, but also creates jobs.

Hughes recently hosted an Infrastructure Summit at Temple University that focused on the developing crisis in infrastructure funding. He said that he is speaking out on this issue because “this is serious stuff’ and “no one wants to see a bridge collapse like in Minnesota.”

Hughes and Casey pointed to the East Falls Station to highlight the type of repairs that are not being completed because of the lack of funding.  Hughes is calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to move transportation funding to the top of his issue priority list.

Casey said, “We can rehabilitate this bridge at a lower cost or let it crumble and be forced to replace this bridge and bridges like this at a significantly higher cost.”

The East Falls Station serves the Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail Line and has been in service since the early 1900’s.  Plans call for a $10 million upgrade to include a new station building, high-level platforms, renovated pedestrian tunnel and improvements to parking, landscaping and stormwater management.

Hughes said the Marcellus Shale legislation now before the House and Senate, if amended, would provide a responsible way to significantly increase funding for important projects like the East Falls Station.  He said that if his shale amendment were included in the final legislative product by 2014, the total funds available for infrastructure work would nearly double.  SEPTA would be in line to receive an additional $100 million in bond funded investment to do rehabilitation work within Philadelphia alone, the senator said.

“The news conference today sends a message to the public of the issues we are facing because we are in need of a solution,” Hughes said. “We are facing a crisis and must raise the level of attention and sense of urgency.

“Let’s work together and let’s put Pennsylvanians back to work.”

According the the Federal Transit Administration, SEPTA’s backlog of maintenance totals $4.2 billion.  But, Hughes said the problem isn’t just a Philadelphia regional issue.  He said the infrastructure problem extends statewide and could spur job creation if proper investments are made.

According to the West Philadelphia lawmaker who serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, 22.8 million vehicles cross deficient bridges in Pennsylvania on an average day. He said Pennsylvania has more bridges structurally deficient bridges than any other state.  Hughes said 26.5 percent of the state’s bridges are deficient and 17 percent are obsolete.  There are 5,906 bridges that need attention.

Hughes called on Corbett to provide leadership on transportation and move on the recommendations made by his own task force.  Corbett’s transportation task force reported an immediate need of $3.5 billion in funding. It also recommended uncapping the Oil Franchise Tax and increasing license and registration fees to generate more revenue.

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