Under the Liberty Bridge was the setting as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called on federal lawmakers to increase funding for the nation’s roads and bridges.
Rendell joined Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania in the request, which is part of a new campaign from the Associated General Contractors of America. It’s an advertising, community outreach and social media campaign.
“We’re asking people to share pictures of bad traffic, poor road conditions and aging bridges by tweeting them out with the hashtag drive better roads (#drivebetterroads),” said Rich Barcaskey, executive director of the Constructors Association of Western PA.
Fitzgerald applauded state lawmakers who in 2013 passed Act 89, the state’s transportation funding plan and asked that the federal government follow suit.
“I can’t think of anything that will help our economy grow and will continue the great growth we have in western Pennsylvania and Allegheny County than an investment in our infrastructure and transportation system,” said Fitzgerald, “so we really do call on Congress, in a bipartisan manner, to pass a federal transportation bill.”
Rendell said 48 percent of Pittsburgh-area bridges are either structurally deficient or structurally obscure. He criticized Washington and said they are proposing less for transportation than what was proposed in President Obama’s budget.
“Why do we have a bunch of ideologues and outright cowards in Washington who are afraid to raise their hand and do what everyone knows we have to do – raise the gas tax as much as Pennsylvania did,” said Rendell.
As part of Act 89, Pennsylvania’s gas tax is to increase 28 cents over five years. Rendell said 14 other states have also raised their gas tax, and added that a federal increase is overdue. The federal gas was last raised in 1994.
“Since ’94 a movie ticket has gone from $4.00 to $12.00,” said Rendell. “A dozen eggs has gone from $0.87 to $2.00, a postage stamp from $0.29 to $0.49, the average price of an automobile from $10,000 to $30,000, and yet we haven’t increased the gas tax.”
The Drive Better Roads campaign will launch in other states over the coming weeks. In addition to social media, the AGC of America has a website, which will allow people to contact their lawmakers.