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Still think the infrastructure law isn’t helping? Check the numbers | Wednesday Morning Coffee

The state was in line for $1.6B for bridge repairs. It’s already being put to work, according to one analysis

April 6, 2022 7:05 am
PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)

PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If you’ve been out on the road of late, you’ve probably noticed the highway workers in yellow safety vests and red road flags popping up like so many mushrooms after a spring rain.

That’s got a lot to do with the fact that the weather is getting warmer, and the traditional start of construction season is upon us. But it also has a bit to do with the fact that the $1.6 billion in bridge repair funding the state received from the bipartisan infrastructure law already is being put to work around the commonwealth.

A new analysis by the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund provides a by-the-numbers rundown of where the state’s share of the money is being spent. And it also highlights some of the more significant projects around the state.

“Bridges such as the Fern Hollow Bridge [in Pittsburgh], which collapsed in late January and will start rebuilding in April, are now being green-lit for improvements using [federal] funding after previously being on hold or at risk of being cut entirely,” the analysis notes.

The analysis adds that such local officials as PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni “have noted the instrumental role IIJA has played in various infrastructure projects this year saying that, ‘These projects were on our needs list. The infrastructure law allows us to address our needs.’”

Buckle up. That rundown begins below.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Among the top line benefits, according to the CAP analysis:

Here’s a look at some more significant regional projects, according to the CAP analysis:

In Philadelphia: $9.8 million in federal infrastructure funding will pay for the construction of a pair of SEPTA bus transportation centers in South Philadelphia, the Capital-Star previously reported. The projects are included in a $409 million allocation under the new federal infrastructure law that will pay for 70 transportation projects in 39 states, the Biden administration announced last month.

In the Lehigh Valley: The infrastructure law will channel $20 million to the region in the 2022 fiscal year, LehighValleyLive reported in February. And bridges top the shopping list, with the Race Street Bridge over the Lehigh River; the Richmond Bridge on Route 611 in Northampton County, and the Route 33 bridges over the Bushkill Creek, all in line for a fiscal shot in the arm from the law, LehighValleyLive reported.

In western Pennsylvania: The city of Pittsburgh received $30 million for mass-transit, while “the Monessen-California area received about $983,000 and the Uniontown-Connellsville area received about $900,000 in public transit funding. The funding also included more than $11 million for rural areas or Appalachian counties and $2.5 million for enhanced mobility of seniors and people with disabilities for communities with a population of less than 200,000,” the Tribune-Review reported in February.

The train station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Getty Images)

And that’s not leaving out the assistance the law will provide in expanding Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. In February, the Democratic Wolf administration announced that it was working on a deal with Norfolk Southern to eventually add a second daily Amtrak trip, the Capital-Star previously reported.

In NEPA: Lackawanna County’s mass transit agency, COLTS, will receive more than $2 million for improvements, WNEP-TV reported in February. The law will also pump $266 million over five years into PennDOT’s District 4, which covers Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. More than $30 million of that is earmarked for repaving and repairs to Route 6, WNEP-TV reported in March.

With a tough midterm election on the horizon, and control of Capitol Hill and the Governor’s Office on the line, Pennsylvania’s legislative and congressional Democrats have spent the past few months holding press events touting what they say are the administration’s achievements.

Ultimately, however, it may be that construction zone sign that will serve as the Dems’ best campaign advertisement.

Abortion rights supporters rally at the Pa. State Capitol on Tuesday, 5/21/19, as part of a national day of action (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Our Stuff.
If Roe v. Wade falls, abortion access will depend on where you live. And these blue states are prepping to become abortion havens, our friends at Stateline.org write in a special report.

In an unsigned, one-page order issued Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court blocked the state from entering into a regional greenhouse gas compactStephen Caruso reports.

The Biden administration announced plans Tuesday to create a national research action plan that could provide answers to public health officials trying to diagnose and treat so-called long COVID-19, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt reports.

Republican state House candidate David Buell, who’s running in a new central Pennsylvania seat, has said that someone impersonated him in racially tinged tweets and also set up websites intended to hurt his campaign, reporter David Wenner, of PennLive, writes.

An investigation by the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office found that there were “likely hundreds of instances” where people deposited more than one ballot in a voting drop box last fall – a violation of state election law, Correspondent Katherine Reinhard reports.

Community groups and education advocates are having their say on incoming School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr., our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: If construction firms need workers, they should turn to unions, a labor advocate writes in an op-Ed first published by our sibling site, the Minnesota Reformer. And Patrick Beaty, of FairDistricts PAhas some thoughts on Harrisburg’s current polarization.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

Elsewhere.
Prosecutors wound down their bribery case against Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson with a ‘testy’ exchange with one of their own witnesses, the Inquirer reports.

A western Pennsylvania resident has gotten house arrest for their role in the Capitol riot, the Tribune-Review reports.

Auto repair shops would play a role in solving hit-and-run crashes under a new state Senate proposal, PennLive reports.

The state Attorney General’s office has appealed a Lancaster County judge’s evidence ruling in a $500K drug forfeiture case, LancasterOnline reports.

USA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau talks to GOP gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Gerow.

State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehighhas challenged his primary challenger, Enid Santiago’s, nominating petitions, the Morning Call reports.

The Citizens’ Voice talks to local auto dealers about the demand for electric vehicles.

Anti-abortion groups in Pennsylvania are touting an abortion pill reversal, but there’s no evidence it actually works, WITF-FM reports.

The accused shooter in a Tuesday incident at Erie High School is younger than 15 and will face juvenile chargesGoErie reports.

GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls Mehmet Oz and David McCormick respectively top dueling internal pollsPoliticsPA reports.

State and local leaders disagree over banning local election grantsCity & State Pa. reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

 

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What Goes On
The Senate comes in at 11 a.m. today.
9:30 a.m., 461 Main Capitol: Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
10 a.m., 8E-B East Wing: Senate State Government Committee
10 a.m., 461 Main Capitol: Senate Transportation Committee
In the House:
9 a.m., Philadelphia: House Democratic Policy Committee
10 a.m., 515 Irvis: House State Government Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. David Argall
8:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione 
5 p.m.: Reception for Pa. Senate candidate Rep. Greg Rothman
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an entirely ridiculous $10,000 today.

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 2:15 p.m. newser in State College to talk about his plan to distribute federal assistance to small businesses.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Ultra-mega best wishes go out to the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso, who completes another trip around the sun today. If you see him out and about, give him cake.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one from Jamiroquai that will never not fit the vibe of this town. It’s ‘Virtual Insanity.’

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Carolina dropped one to Buffalo on Tuesday, losing 4-2 to the Sabres, ceding some ground in the Metro.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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