2018-01-13 / Viewpoints

Giving PennDOT its due


(Leslie S. Richards is secretary of the Pa. Dept. of Transportation.)

Whether it’s resurfacing a rural roadway, replacing an old bridge, or improving pedestrian safety, PennDOT is aiming to improve safety and mobility. We take seriously our responsibility to care for the transportation assets used by Pennsylvanians every day.

What did this mean in your newspaper’s coverage area in 2017?

In the PennDOT region including Potter, Cameron, McKean, Elk, Clinton, Clearfield, Centre, Juniata and Mifflin counties, 325 state roadway miles were paved and 48 bridges were repaired or replaced.

Statewide, roughly 2,100 rural and urban roadway miles were paved. Nearly 1,500 of these paved miles are on roads seeing an average of fewer than 5,000 vehicles daily.

We also put out contracts to preserve, repair, and replace more than 450 state-owned bridges and 18 locally owned bridges, and completed 20 bridge projects with department forces.

Communities across the state can expect even more progress, especially on lower-volume roadways and interstates, due to the Road Maintenance and Preservation (Road MaP) program. Some $2.1 billion will go toward critical highway and bridge projects completed by PennDOT staff and our private sector partners through the 2027-28 fiscal year.

This program will benefit roads and bridges across the state, but here are examples of what $2.1 billion would translate into if it were fully allocated to one of three categories: paving nearly 21,000 miles of low-volume roadway; paving 2,100 miles of two-lane interstate; or 1,050 bridge projects worth $2 million each.

These are just one year’s examples of how we’re putting Pa. Act 89, the state’s landmark, bi-partisan transportation funding plan, to work. As of mid-November, nearly 3,000 projects have been completed or are underway that were accelerated or made possible by Act 89. More than 4,200 projects are on our four-year and 12-year plans.

At a time when many areas of the nation are struggling with how to make much-needed investments in transportation, Pennsylvania is improving pavement smoothness and tackling our long-standing challenge of many bridges in desperate need of repair. We have cut the number of these so-called structurally deficient bridges from a high of 6,034 in 2008 to 3,280 as of October 2017.

I’m very proud of what PennDOT is accomplishing, and I reinforce our commitment to improving the public’s mobility and quality of life as we enhance our large and critical transportation system.

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