Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director
Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc.
Good transportation is a quality of life issue. Transportation infrastructure is crucial to drawing employers to the Lehigh Valley and recruiting a workforce. The Lehigh Valley is experiencing rapid growth--with more people, more businesses and more freight now and in the near future-- there is a pressing need for infrastructure renewal which could cost about $2.5 billion.
Pennsylvania has 4,000 bridges that are structurally deficient and 10,000 miles of roadway in poor condition according to Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards, who made her first visit to the Lehigh Valley since becoming transportation secretary in April.
Richards spoke to a crowd of 200 business and political leaders at the annual Lehigh Valley Transportation Forum hosted by The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Mack Truck Service Center in Allentown.
Richards’ provided a state-level view of Pennsylvania and explained how the federal Highway Trust Fund needs to be extended meaningfully. Currently it is being sustained month to month by emergency congressional action and help from the new 28-cent gas tax, but completing the repair job will require much cooperation from Congress.
“Call your Congressman,” Richards Said. “Keep the pressure on them, there’s a few around this room.”
Offering a more local point of view, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission released an anticipated long-range transportation plan that layed out the projects the area will need to support the continued growth over the next 15 years and how it plans to pay for them. Becky Bradley, the Executive Director of LVPC, spoke specifically about plans for the Lehigh Valley.
“Good transportation systems are crucial to supporting the rapid growth of the area,” said Bradley. Relating to Richards about needing Congress’ help, Bradley also stated how 80 percent of the funding for road projects in the area originates in the federal government.
A panel discussion with Secretary Richards’, moderated by Tony Iannelli, provided a framework of moving forward on highlighted transportation issues.