Pennsylvania lawmakers have a chance next week to show us they can perform one of the most basic functions of government: Provide a safe transportation infrastructure for their constituents.

It's more important than privatizing the state's lottery or liquor stores, and should be much less complicated than reforming the public pension system.

This is about safety, quality of life and economics; it affects every one of us daily.

Yet lawmakers haven't passed a transportation bill since 2000, allowing our roads and bridges to deteriorate to the point we now have a $3.5 billion annual funding gap for transportation projects.

This should be simple.

Of course the repairs will cost money, but any homeowner can attest to the high cost of doing nothing. Problems tend to become worse, and more expensive, if not addressed.

One of the most frustrating things about this issue is how many lawmakers agree our transportation infrastructure is dangerously underfunded.

And still the GOP-controlled House and Senate can't reach an agreement with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on a transportation bill.

Earlier this year, the governor proposed a $1.8 billion plan, and the Senate countered with a $2.2 billion offer. The House didn't accept either.

Not long after, the state Department of Transportation announced new weight restrictions on about 1,000 bridges statewide, 21 of which were state and locally owned bridges in York. The county has 36 structurally deficient bridges.


The York County Economic Alliance Business Advocacy Council was the latest to sound the alarm, releasing a survey of its members that showed 61 percent would support a tax increase for transportation and infrastructure investments.

"This tells us more members support passing a bill because they realize the cost of doing nothing is more than the cost of doing something," said John Klinedinst, council chairman and president and CEO of York-based C.S. Davidson Inc., a civil engineering firm.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, seemed to downplay the survey, suggesting the business community was more concerned about the contracts and construction work members would see as a results of a transportation bill.

Yes, contractors would benefit from the work, but that doesn't mean the work isn't necessary.

And average Pennsylvanians will continue to lose if the Legislature refuses to act.

Who do you suppose foots the bill when businesses have to transport their goods miles out of their way because of bridges that can't support their trucks?


In fact, TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, issued a report earlier this year noting the poor condition of roads in the York/Harrisburg/Lancaster region costs drivers $1,646 annually in wasted fuel, added vehicle operating costs and crashes.

Combined, Pennsylvania drivers waste $9.4 billion a year, according to the report.

As we said, this affects everyone, every day.

Local lawmakers said the House will take another crack at a transportation bill during an up-or-down vote next week.

At this point, if they can't finally get this done, they don't deserve to be in the Legislature.