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Transportation Legislation Will Drive Lehigh Valley Economy

By LVEDC Staff on November 26, 2013

Governor Tom Corbett signed into law major legislation that will provide about $2.3 billion in new transportation funding. Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation applauds the passage – landmark legislation that we had supported since it was first discussed months ago.

LVEDC wants to thank the state legislators who voted in favor of the legislation. Locally, that includes Senator Pat Browne (R-16th), Senator Bob Mensch (R-24th) and Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-132nd). (Read the full interviews with each here.)

“LVEDC has supported an increase in transportation funding, because improving the Lehigh Valley’s transportation infrastructure is vital to growing jobs and investment in the region,” said Don Cunningham, CEO and president of LVEDC.

“While the new law will allow for funding of many road and bridge projects, it also creates a new, special fund to be known as the Multimodal Transportation Fund for the purposes of providing grant funding for rail freight, rail passenger service, aviation, ports and waterways, road and bridge projects, and bicycle and pedestrian related projects.”

By passing this legislation, a major initiative of Gov. Corbett, Pennsylvania won’t have to borrow money to finance long-term projects that will ultimately enhance transportation infrastructure – and make the commonwealth even more appealing for economic development.

The three Lehigh Valley politicians who voted for the legislation agreed the package will prove beneficial for economic development efforts here and throughout the commonwealth.

“It would have been irresponsible for the state legislature not to pass and the governor not to sign such an incredibly significant initiative that will protect our citizens by ensuring safe roads and bridges as they travel throughout the commonwealth,” said Sen. Browne. “…In addition, there is no doubt that this will spur economic development by providing jobs immediately to many out-of-work Pennsylvania residents as numerous rehabilitation, replacement and new construction projects get underway.”

The status quo was unacceptable, according to Sen. Mensch.

“The cost of doing nothing is great,” said Sen. Mensch in a news release on the legislation. “A recent report by a national transportation group found that the poor state of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges costs state residents $9.4 billion annually in vehicle operating costs, congestion delays and traffic accidents.”

“The impact will be enormous,” noted Rep. Schlossberg. “State-wide the bill will create 50,000 to 60,000 jobs and boost economic input by $2 billion. In the Lehigh Valley and Allentown, this means thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in economic development.

“The bill gives economic development organizations, such as the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, another feature to attract additional companies to the region.

“Businesses consistently rank mobility of workers, and their ability to get to work, as one of the top three factors in determining whether or not to move to an area.”

The myriad of transportation projects that will occur in the Lehigh Valley is significant, the legislators said. Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch has assured them the City of Allentown, in particular, will greatly benefit.

“The widening of Route 22 will happen and will be accelerated, generating more jobs and enhancing business activity,” Schlossberg said.

In addition, a traffic study will be conducted in downtown Allentown to determine how to enhance traffic flow and alleviate congestion with thousands of new jobs occurring as a result of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), highlighted by the opening of PPL Arena next fall.

There will also be a new multi-modal fund that can be accessed for pedestrian safety, streetscape and railway improvements, and even aviation.

By the fifth year of the plan according to the governor’s office, the transportation package will invest an additional:

• $1.3 billion annually for state roads and bridges,

• $480 million to $495 million annually for public transportation,

• $237 million annually for local roads and bridges,

• $144 million annually in a multi-modal fund,

• $30 million annually for dirt, gravel and low-volume roadways, and

• $86 million annually for Pennsylvania Turnpike expansion projects

 

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