Wolf Joins Governors Asking For Trump's Help With Infrastructure

Feb 28, 2017

 

In this file photo, a covering is in place under the superstructure as work continues on the Birmingham Bridge that spans the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh.
Credit Keith Srakocic / AP File Photo

Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Tom Wolf gave the Trump administration a tip of the hat at the National Governors Assocation meeting in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

"I think the adminstration's focus on infrastructure is important because we have a lot of catching up to do," said Wolf at a panel discussion with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. "By some estimates $4 trillion nationally."

While on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump promised to chip away at that deficit with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan to improve the country's bridges, roads, public transit and waterways. There's plenty of debate on where that funding will come from — public-private partnerships and a national infrastructure bank have been floated, among others — as well as when it should be expected.

What isn't up for debate is whether states would have use for those dollars. The NGA submitted a list of 428 infrastructure projects from governors around the country that would be ready to use a piece of that $1 trillion. 

Reuters reports that California has asked for $120 billion for high-speed rail, among other projects, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wants $122 million for highway repairs. Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina has upped that ante with a request for $5 billion for the same. 

What would Pennsylvania want? 

According to the list provided to the National Governors Assocation on behalf of Governor Wolf, at least $777 million for highway and transit improvements, plus another $1.1 billion for high-speed rail in the Philly suburbs. 

Wolf's spokesman J.J. Abbott says this is an initial list that is not comprehensive and will likely change when the time comes to make actual requests of the administration. But here's what PennDOT and Wolf's office came up with for the NGA: 

  • $1.1 billion: Design and construction to extend the Norristown High Speed Line to King of Prussia in Montgomery County
  • $265 million: Reconstruction of 1.75 miles of interstate highway that constitutes 450,000 square feet of structurally deficient bridge deck area in Philadelphia
  • $200 - $250 million: Improve transit in Pittsburgh's Downtown-Uptown-Oakland-East End Corridor
  • $133.5 million: Reconstruction and widening of I-83 in Dauphin County
  • $85 million: Reconstruction and widening of 1.5 miles of Route 1 and three bridges in Bucks County
  • $65 million: Interchange improvement at the Highland Park Bridge in Pittsburgh
  • $19 million: Complete reconstruction of the Exit 4 interchange on I-83 in Shrewsbury, York County

Pennsylvania has the second highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country, with about one in 10 state or locally-owned bridges needing repairs. The state can't adequately enforce safe water standards, according to the EPA. Sometimes, our roads just open up and swallow cars.

Pennsylvania could use a piece of the national pie, but the question remains: will Trump's promised trillion come through?

Speaking to the governors on Monday morning, Trump reiterated his promise to spend "big" on infrastructure, saying, perhaps a bit morosely, that, on this particular issue, "it's not like we have a choice."