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Will lawmakers cross bridge or let it rot?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

penndotbridge

No, Pennsylvania has not developed a serious case of acne. It’s worse. The map depicts bridges that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says will probably get weight restrictions in the next few years if the Legislature doesn’t approve additional transportation funding.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch developed the map to illustrate one of several consequences if lawmakers don’t act this month. Obviously, it is designed to bring the issue home with voters and recalcitrant Republicans in the House: imagine your children’s school buses sent on an 8-mile daily detour; or your local fire department having to take a roundabout route to respond to your burning house. Imagine businesses fleeing the state via the few remaining good bridges.

That might resonate more with citizens and lawmakers than warnings about mass transit cuts, which also will happen without more funding. After all, as Capitolwire’s Peter L. DeCoursey reported last month, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry is on record as saying public transit subsidies were “just more welfare” — feel free to decipher that code — and Rep. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township says his constituents are fed up with “pouring money down a black hole of inefficiency, patronage and corruption,” an interesting comment from a member of an institution that has racked up 25 criminal convictions in the last few years.

The transportation funding legislation known as Senate Bill 1 is likely to be passed by an overwhelming and bipartisan majority in the Senate, maybe as soon as Wednesday. Then it will go to the House, several of whose members reportedly are squeamish about adding $3 per week to a typical motorist’s expense after 15 years of no gas tax or fee increases.

Mr. Schoch told the International Bridge Conference on Monday that enactment of additional funding is vital to public safety and the state’s economy. By the end of the month, we’ll see whether those imperatives are trumped by lawmakers’ personal political considerations.

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The Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Torch Run will wind its way through Pittsburgh and the east suburbs today, leaving town for State College via Route 22. This event produced epic backups last year during the evening rush. Avoid eastbound Route 22 this afternoon and evening if you can.

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workzone

Work beneath the ramp connecting the Veterans Bridge to the Parkway North will continue through June 17. The two-lane ramp merges to a single lane approaching the parkway. The merge point has been moved back toward the bridge while crews replace the pedestals on which the bridge bearings sit. The work is occurring from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and overnight starting at 8 p.m.

The Swinburne Bridge carrying Frazier Street over Four Mile Run in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood will close at 9 a.m. Wednesday for two months of repairs that will remove the 3-ton weight limit. The posted detour uses Second Avenue, Bates Street and the Boulevard of the Allies.

The Fort Pitt Tunnels will have single-lane traffic inbound starting at 10 p.m. today and outbound after 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday during maintenance. The lane closures end by 5 a.m. daily.

Westbound Interstate 80 has a three-mile work zone with single-lane traffic near Grove City-Sandy Lake (Exit 24) through 4 p.m. Friday.

Here are the roads scheduled for tar-and-chip treatment this week, per PennDOT:

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Installation of pavement reflectors will cause intermittent lane closures in both directions daily from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Friday on the following roads: Route 19 between Washington County and the West End Bridge; Route 30 between Mosside Boulevard and the Parkway East’s Wilkinsburg interchange; and Route 8 between Frankstown Avenue and Negley Run Boulevard and between Butler County and the 62nd Street Bridge.

Work on pedestrian signals on Lebanon Church Road may cause lane closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Monday at Lebanon Road, Delwar Road, Camp Hollow Road, Regis Avenue and Buttermilk Hollow Road.

Crack and joint sealing on Route 885 and various ramps may cause short-term, slow-moving lane closures in both directions from Rankin Street in Clairton to Stevenson Street in Oakland from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through June 12. That includes the Boulevard of the Allies into Oakland.

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