Gridlock could cause transportation funding cuts

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

A “continuing resolution” now pending in the U.S. House — a stopgap measure to keep the federal government operating while Congress dithers over more permanent budget legislation — would slash transportation funding that was just approved in last year’s long-overdue transportation authorization law, advocates are warning.

The law, MAP-21, passed nearly three years late after nine extensions of the previous law, basically preserved funding at previous levels (at a time when the consensus is that we need to be spending much more on transportation infrastructure). Now the House appears poised to tighten the belt even more, evidently not too concerned about those 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the landscape, used by nearly 283 million vehicles per day.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials issued this statement:

“We are disappointed with the surface transportation investment levels contained in the proposed House continuing resolution, which fails to meet funding levels from MAP-21 passed by the Congress just nine months ago,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. “At a time when our economy continues to struggle to regain its footing, any reduction in transportation infrastructure investment only exacerbates that problem. We are also concerned that the proposed bill freezes funding for certain safety programs at a time when highway fatalities may again be on the rise.”

roadworkaheadTravelers on Interstate 79 in Butler County will face two years of single-lane traffic starting Thursday at the Route 422 interchange (Exit 99) in Muddycreek because of a bridge replacement project. The left lane will close in both directions at 7 a.m. as crews continue to build a crossover. Eventually, northbound traffic will cross to the southbound side, which will have one lane in both directions as the northbound bridge over Route 422 is replaced. The pattern will reverse itself next year for replacement of the southbound span. The $14 million project includes ramp and roadway construction and installation of three digital message signs and a traffic camera. Expect delays.

The ramp from northbound South Braddock Avenue to the westbound Parkway East in Edgewood and Swissvale will close from 9 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Since all four major compass points figured into that last statement, we’re hoping you are as confused as us. We’ll clarify: if you are driving from the shopping mall toward Edgewood, you won’t be able to use the looping ramp to the inbound parkway. OK, we’ll show you a picture.


There are two detours: daylight via South Braddock to a left on Forbes Avenue, left on Beechwood Boulevard, right on Forward Avenue; nights, use Murray Avenue instead of Beechwood. Resist the urge to just hang a u-ie.

Inspection of the New Kensington Bridge carrying Ninth Street over the Allegheny River in East Deer will limit traffic to an alternating one-way pattern from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through March 18.

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