Congressman eyes transportation issues

On Wednesday, April 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed another 90-day extension of surface transportation programs. House leaders plan to use the extension legislation as a vehicle to begin a conference committee with the U.S. Senate, which has already approved a two-year, $109 billion reauthorization bill.The House measure extends federal-aid highway, safety, transit, and other programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund at Fiscal Year 2011 levels in lieu of a new, multiyear reauthorization.Joined by U.S. Congressman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-5) via teleconference at a North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission [NCPRPDC] board meeting, the two-term legislator shared his views on the state's transportation issues."When I first hit Washington for the first time in January of 2009, we were looking at the economy the way it was and unemployment was in such terrible condition," Thompson said. "What we should've done was expedite a transportation infrastructure reauthorization and do that in a way that was legitimate, five years at the minimum, and provide some certainty for all those planning organizations and construction agencies. "It would've put jobs in every congressional district throughout the United States. It would've been driven on recommendations of MPOs [Metropolitan Planning Organizations] and I think they should be the guiding factor when it comes to investment in transportation and infrastructure projects."Unfortunately, it didn't happen."That's not where we are today, unfortunately, and the Senate had, I believe, an 18-month bill-- I support a 5-year bill out of the House and last week we had to settle for another 90-day extension, but with it came language allowing us to get into conference with the Senate," Thompson said. "I am very concerned with that because I don't want it to be short-term, say 18 months or a year-- I don't think that's adequate for MPOs for planning and I don't think it's adequate for the construction industry as well when you're investing in equipment and resources that are necessary to meet these infrastructure needs."Pick up a copy of the Thursday, April 26, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.North Central executive committeeWhen: Wednesday, May 23Where: North Central offices, 651 Montmorenci Rd., RidgwayTime: 9:30 a.m.Note: The next full board of directors meeting will be held Wednesday, July 25 beginning at 11 a.m.