After decades of underinvestment, Pennsylvania’s poor roads and bridges are hitting drivers where it hurts: their wallets.
According to a recent White House report, Pennsylvanians spent an average of “$620 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair” from 2011 to 2021. This is the unspoken price of car travel in PA that both recreational drivers and commercial truckers may not know about.
The consequences of Pennsylvania’s underinvested infrastructure are not surprising. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Pennsylvania a “C-grade on its infrastructure report card,” and Pennsylvania highways are “rated among the worst in the nation for road and bridge deterioration,” according to a report from national transportation nonprofit TRIP.
In January, just hours before President Biden was set to speak publicly about Pennsylvania’s aging bridges, the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed.
For decades, Pennsylvanians have seen roadways and bridges deteriorate. As people have seen commute times in Pennsylvania increasing by 7.6% in the past 10 years, they can also expect to visit the repair shop more often – and pay a steeper bill.
Pennsylvanians have a reason to feel optimism, however. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, despite some lengthy debate in the Senate and House, has been signed into law, and will deliver “$11.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $1.6 billion for bridge replacement and repairs… over five years,” based on formula funding.
The bill also includes “$2.8 billion over five years… to improve public transportation options across the state” and “$49 million over five years to protect against wildfires,” both of which are necessary steps to reduce individual car use and prepare for the worsening effects of climate change.
Opponents have claimed that these investments are too expensive, but the costs of inaction are too severe. From 2010 to 2020 alone, extreme weather events have cost Pennsylvanians “up to $10 billion in damages.” The Infrastructure bill includes funds that will help Pennsylvania afford infrastructure repairs “with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users.” Reinvesting in the state’s roads and bridges now is key to protect Pennsylvanians from further environmental damages.
Many drivers knew Pennsylvania’s infrastructure had long been due for an overhaul. The Infrastructure plan will go a long way towards repairing many longstanding problems with Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges.