Encouraging news from Harrisburg and Washington

April 2, 2020

PennDOT announced this week that 61 emergency and critical highway and bridge projects will resume statewide. While the entire highway and bridge construction program was paused as the Commonwealth addressed the COVID-19 response, urgent emergency work is now continuing in order to ensure a reliable transportation system as circumstances surrounding COVID-19 unfold.

Reacting to the announcement, APC’s Bob Latham first commended Governor Wolf for his leadership in addressing the pandemic. He also applauded acting PennDOT Secretary Yasmin Gramian for her role in restarting some of the projects that are critical to the safety and welfare of Pennsylvania residents.

“The industry now has an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to resume emergency repairs for essential projects while protecting the health of construction workers and the public,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “The restart program needs to move forward, because there are many more life-sustaining construction projects either in progress or will be soon.”

APC members worked with PennDOT, the Turnpike Commission and industry partners to develop safety standards that will avoid spreading the virus. They include cleanliness protocols for jobsites and offices, social distancing guidelines, procedures to address employee sickness, and the safe handling of material deliveries.

Meanwhile, in Washington…

While by now we are conditioned to be skeptical, there are signs that an infrastructure funding initiative could be gaining some traction as part of an emerging fourth phase of the coronavirus economic recovery bill.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that infrastructure should be part of the bill. The following day, President Trump embraced the idea in a tweet, suggesting that it should be around $2 trillion and focus on jobs and rebuilding the infrastructure.

Infrastructure has traditionally been a bipartisan issue for Congress, and it was a top 2016 campaign issue for Trump, but he has yet to reach an agreement with Congress, at least in part because of the challenge of funding a program. A $2 trillion infrastructure program as part of the recovery bill would be a significant contribution. As always, we approach the idea with hopes that this time there will be consensus.


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