411 bridge projects will be completed, more money for airports, rail in Pennsylvania

Governor Edward G. Rendell signed legislation authorizing the commonwealth to invest an additional $350 million to speed the repair of 411 structurally deficient bridges statewide.

The legislation also authorizes an additional $15 million to be spent on airport and rail projects.

“At a time when this region, the state and the nation are facing very tough economic conditions, Rebuild Pennsylvania will inject much needed stimulus into Pennsylvania’s aging transportation infrastructure,” the Governor said. “This is a step in the right direction in repairing Pennsylvania’s structurally deficient bridges and, although we still have a lot of work ahead of us, these additional dollars will help the commonwealth restore or replace vital transportation links.”

Under Governor Rendell’s Rebuild Pennsylvania program, a combination of federal and state funds, including $350 million in bond funds, will underwrite bridge projects that will be included in the state transportation improvement program. The combined funding will allow PennDOT to start repairs on 411 bridges this year.

“I applaud legislative leaders from both parties who, by working together, not only hammered out a deal to speed restoration on some bridges but for also recognizing that air and rail are also vitally important if we are to continue to connect Pennsylvania businesses and families to the global economy,” the Governor said.

The budget doubles the aviation grant program to $10 million from $5 million and will underwrite more airfield safety improvements, hangar construction and terminal improvements, all of which improve access ability, spur economic development and provide improved customer service and safety throughout the commonwealth’s aviation system.

The Rail Transportation Assistance Program will increase by $10 million to $30 million and include $3 million for the preservation of railroad bridges. The remaining funds will be used to construct and reestablish rail lines, preserve existing rail lines, improve safety and add new capacity. Total funding available for rail has tripled under Governor Rendell. Rail freight investment entices economic development and promotes an environmentally and fuel-friendly alternative to moving goods through the commonwealth

“We still have a long way to go,” the Governor said. “Pennsylvania has more than 6,000 structurally deficient bridges - the most of any state and the price tag to fix all of those bridges is in excess of $11 billion.

“I look forward to the legislature revisiting the transportation funding issue in the fall and considering the $12.8 billion bid we have received for the lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.”