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Transportation bill causing local issues

March 28, 2012

Photo by Joseph Bell – Eric Bridges, left, executive director of the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, speaks Wednesday alongside Doug Morley, Potter County Commissioner and chairman of North Central's executive board of directors.

Federal road funding is set to expire this weekend and the monetary halt has caused considerable unrest amongst area planners.
"All federal programs for transportation will close and no projects will move forward until [Congress] decides to pass something, but again it doesn't look like they're going to," said Amy Kessler, Director of Community Development and Regional Planning at the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission (NCPRPDC). "We're not planning much at all in regard to projects. It's just hurting our ability in the long run and project costs are going to be higher."
It is reportedly the ninth extension of legislation that ran out Sept. 30, 2009.
"If there is a consensus, we're still talking 30 to 40 days-- they need to pass something now," Kessler said. "I saw a figure regarding how much money is wasted sitting in congestion [traffic] and it's like $100 billion that people waste sitting in traffic and the Senate bill is $109 billion-- by the time they get together and do something, it's really only a 1-year extension.
"Nothing has been done, proposed, the can just keeps getting kicked down the road."
Failure to pass a transportation funding bill could lead to stalled projects and increased job losses for the construction industry; a temporary extension would reportedly do little to stabilize state transportation, according to North Central officials.
For Doug Morley, chairman of the North Central executive board of directors and a Potter County Commissioner, stalling at the federal level causes state and local projects to cease.
"It's frustrating because [Kessler] spends a lot of time putting all this stuff together and then you're affected by a federal situation where everything comes to a screeching halt," Morley said.
Without an extension, Kessler said roads will get worse and deteriorating bridges will not be repaired and instead will be posted and shut down.
"They'll be closed and roads won't be redone-- we're already seeing that now," Kessler said. "It's going to continue to happen on one level or the other."

Pick up a copy of the Thursday, March 29, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

Next meeting:
Who: North Central executive committee
When: Wednesday, April 25
Where: North Central office, 651 Montmorenci Rd., Ridgway
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Note: A full board of directors meeting will convene at 11 a.m.

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