The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 13, 2013

Highway funding deal may be near

HARRISBURG — Here in the middle of harvest season, farmer Andy Flinchbaugh ought to be driving across a small York County bridge four times a day to deliver grain to feed mills.

But he can’t. The bridge is one of 1,000 that has been posted with a weight restriction by PennDOT in the wake of the Legislature’s failure to pass a transportation funding plan.

Flinchbaugh has a 1,600-acre grain farm. The detours he must follow to get around the posted bridge double the length of his trip. What used to be a

15-mile run is now

30 miles, he said.

“I live in rural America,” Flinchbaugh said. “My roads may not be a priority (to state decision makers) but this (harvest season) is when time is of the essence.”

There may be relief ahead as House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, has signaled a House vote on the

$2.5 billion transportation funding plan passed in the Senate could come as soon as  this week.

Significant hurdles remain.

Leaders believe there are around 70 lawmakers in the House who will support any transportation plan put up for a vote, said Turzai’s spokesman, Stephen Miskin. Legislative leaders are struggling to find a compromise that will garner the 102 votes needed for the plan to pass.

Plans that spend more are less attractive to Republicans. And plans spending less are less attractive to Democrats.

“We’re looking for that sweet spot,” Miskin said.

One strategy that is picking up momentum involves tacking prevailing wage reforms onto the bill in a bid to coax Republican lawmakers to support the

legislation despite its built-in increase in the gas tax. Republicans want road maintenance work exempted from the higher-wage rules.

House Republican leaders are jockeying to get some of the state’s labor unions to back the concessions on prevailing wage in exchange for the increased spending on highway construction.

Democrats in the House would like to see transportation funding pass, said Bill Patton, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Frank Dermody,

D-Allegheny. But prevailing wage would be a “huge stumbling block,” Patton said.

Republicans might be able to entice a few union locals to endorse their plan, but most labor organizations will not budge on the prevailing wage issue, said Frank Sirriani, president of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council.

The Building and Construction Trades Council was one of more than 70 union and business groups that signed a letter last month urging the House to approve the additional transportation funding.

Whether the plan includes prevailing wage or not, Gov. Tom Corbett wants a transportation funding plan.

“(The governor) is going to sign whatever transportation funding plan gets to his desk,” Corbett spokesman Steve Chizmar said. “We’ve kicked this transportation funding can down the road long enough. The time is now.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • pow21 Person of the Week: ‘I wanted to help’: Teen uses birthday to show love for children, animals

    Anastasia Machik’s love for children and animals inspired her to forgo her birthday gifts for the sake of the two.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students taking steps to call attention to child abuse

    An upcoming community walk will help raise awareness of child abuse.

    April 20, 2014

  • In brief: PennDOT reports weekly work schedule

    April 20, 2014

  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads