Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There’s an old joke that Pennsylvania has two seasons: Winter and “This Road Is Closed,” which runs, roughly, from about the first week of April until the first really bad blizzard closes Interstate 81 for hours and hours on end.
We’ve already written at great length about the lamentable state of Pennsylvania’s public infrastructure and the various and sundry ways that policymakers have tried to address a challenge that stretches across the realms of economic competitiveness, public safety and your God-given right to not have a kidney shook loose when you hit a really bad dip somewhere around Hamburg, Pa.
But as the House and Senate return to session this week and take up (or not) dueling plans to fix Pennsylvania’s ailing network of roads and bridges, a timely new report provides ample reminder of the magnitude of the challenge that lawmakers and the Democratic Wolf administration now face.
According to a new report by the good folks at QuoteWizard, the insurance division of the financial website LendingTree, Pennsylvania has the 5th worst road infrastructure of these United States.
To reach that conclusion, wonks “analyzed Federal Highway Administration data and ranked states based on the percentage of poor condition roads, the annual cost per motorist from roads in need of repair and the percentage of structurally deficient bridges.”
As an added bonus, the wonks at QuoteWizard took a look at the percentage of state spending on road repairs, and concluded thus:
- “30% of Pennsylvania roads are in poor condition.
- “It costs $610 per driver in Pennsylvania due to poor roads, the 19th-highest in the nation.
- “18 percent of the bridges in Pennsylvania are structurally deficient, the 5th-highest percentage.
- “22 percent of the allocated highway budget is spent on road repairs.”
And if those numbers sound familiar, there’s a good reason for that.
Back in August, scholars at the the Libertarian-leaning Reason Foundation ranked Pennsylvania 35th in the nation for the cost-effectiveness of its highways.
As we noted earlier this year, Pennsylvania has replaced more than 550 structurally deficient bridges and advanced 2,600 transportation projects, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
But that was only enough to improve the commonwealth’s roads to a D+, according to the society’s 2018 report. Overall, Pennsylvania’s highways, dams, sewers, and tunnels earned a C- grade, according to the engineers’ society data.
The ongoing debate over infrastructure reform remains one of the outstanding issues of this fall’s legislative session. It would be nice to think that this latest round of data will finally push the issue to the front-burner where it belongs. But we’ve seen similar studies get swallowed by metaphoric potholes before.
Stephen Caruso has a look at an expected House committee vote on expanding mandatory minimums on gun crimes — but not on a Red Flag law.
Senior Wolf administration officials warned Monday that seniors and people with disabilities would be ‘disproportionately’ hurt by President Donald Trump’s food stamp change. Sarah Anne Hughes has the story.
Bucks and Montgomery counties have been chosen by the federal government for a PFAS exposure study, Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender reports.
On our Commentary Page, Brian Malthe of the Hope & Heal Fund has some suggestions on which voices should be elevated in our national debate over gun violence. And state Sens. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia, and Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, update on the progress of the state’s ‘Safe2Say’ law.
If the Ukraine allegations are true, President Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, tells the Inquirer.
A California man has been charged in connection with those drug overdoses in Pittsburgh over the weekend, the Post-Gazette reports. Initial tests have shown the presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the newspaper reported.
There’s been a mumps outbreak at Moravian College in the Lehigh Valley. The Morning Call has the story.
PennLive takes a look at efforts to reform Pennsylvania’s broken probation system.
Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:
A bankruptcy judge has greenlighted the sale of St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, WHYY-FM reports.
Beto O’ Rourke is headed to Pittsburgh, where he’ll talk guns, labor and impeachment, WESA-FM reports.
Stateline.org looks at healthcare services that help seniors stay in their homes.
Roll Call has more on growing impeachment calls from Democrats after the Ukraine allegations.
What Goes On.
As befits a Tuesday on a session week, there’s around a zillion things happening today. Hope you brought your walking shoes.
The House and Senate gavel in at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
9 a.m, Main Rotunda: Reps. Jordan Harris and Jake Wheatley, and others, join Pennsylvanians for Probation Reform.
9 a.m., East Rotunda: Rally by the Pa. Coalition for an Inclusive Community.
10 a.m., Main Rotunda: Reps. JoAnna McCinton, Mindy Fee and others on a bill allowing dental hygienists to perform school dental exams.
10 a.m, East Rotunda: Rep. Angel Cruz on newborn screenings
11 a.m., Media Center: Rep. Rosita Youngblood holds a Diaper Need Awareness Week event. A collection drive will also be taking place in the East Rotunda.
11 a.m, Main Rotunda: Winners of the Draw the Lines contest to come up with better legislative maps are announced.
11:30 a.m., Capitol Steps: Emergency Removal Order Action Day — a rally against the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
12 p.m., Media Center: Sens. Katie Muth and Andy Dinniman, along with Reps. Melissa Shusterman, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Elizabeth Fiedler, will be joined by people who lost general assistance, to explain why the program needs to be restored.
12:30 p.m, Main Rotunda: A ‘Parents Know Best” rally. Erm …. asserting that parents know best … we guess. Though that it is often not the case.
1:30 p.m, Capitol Steps: Rally against closing the White Haven and Polk State Centers in northwestern Pennsylvania. The facilities serve people with intellectual disabilities.
2 p.m., Main Rotunda: Recovery Advocacy Day event
5:30 p.m., City Island, Harrisburg: Annual Capitol All-Star charity softball game.
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Once again, it’s a Tuesday during a session week …
7:30 a.m: Breakfast for Rep. Patty Kim
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Melissa Shusterman
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. John Sabatina
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Mike Zabel
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Lori Mizgorski
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Brandon Markosek
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Larry Farnese
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Danilo Burgos
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Vince Hughes
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Gene Yaw
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen Ryan Aument
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Christina Sappey
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an absolutely ridiculous $31,750 today.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Chris Lilienthal at PSEA, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day, sir.
Because we’re craving some musical comfort food this morning, here’s an old favorite from central Pennsylvania stalwarts, The Badlees. It’s ‘Hindsightseeing.’
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
Writing at The Guardian, Caitlin Murray reminds us of what we already know: In every sense of the word, Megan Rapinoe is the best soccer player in the world.
And now you’re up to date.