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Securing Funding for PA’s Critical Bridge Improvements


June 26, 2024

Securing Funding for PA’s Critical Bridge Improvements

By Dan DeBone, President/CEO, Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce


Bridges provide crucial access between regions and cities, linking workers to jobs, goods to markets, and people to essential services. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), transportation agencies need $70.9 billion to overcome the current backlog of deficient bridges. This investment would be money well spent, as poor bridge conditions have major implications for traveler safety, mobility, and economic activity. Allowing roads and bridges to slip into disrepair ultimately costs state and local governments billions more than the cost of regular, timely repair. Over a 25-year period, deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventative repairs. The backlog also increases safety risks, hinders economic prosperity, and significantly burdens taxpayers.

In Westmoreland County, approximately 355,000 residents reside in our county and 172,000 individuals are employed across various sectors. Notably, manufacturing is our region's second-largest employment sector and a cornerstone of our economic strength. This industry alone employs over 26,000 people, producing and shipping a wide array of products—from custom carbide supplies and compressors to massive steam turbines and advanced control systems, to mention only a few. These products reach not just other states but also countries around the world. The efficient movement of these goods is vital not only to our region but also to the economic lifeline we depend on, heavily reliant on our ability to utilize safe and dependable bridges. According to the recent National Transportation Research Group (TRIP) report, 13% of Pennsylvania's locally and state-maintained bridges are rated in poor condition. The report indicates that 12% of bridges in an eight-county greater Pittsburgh area are rated in poor condition. That's 510 bridges out of 4,190, and they carry nearly 1.2 million vehicles a day.

Despite the progress made through Pennsylvania's Act 44 and Act 89, the need for additional funding to offset inflation and rising material costs for bridge repair and replacement has never been greater. The safety of our communities is paramount, but our ability to transport products efficiently is also critical for sustaining and growing our local economies. The bridges and infrastructure that support our manufacturing and other key industries are aging and in need of significant investment. Without this, we risk not only the safety of our citizens but also the economic stability that these industries provide. Every day, thousands of workers and countless goods traverse these bridges. Any disruption could have severe consequences for local businesses, employment, and the wider economy. Therefore, it is imperative that we secure the necessary funding and commitment from the state to ensure our infrastructure can meet the demands of today and the challenges of tomorrow.

Investing in our bridges is not just about maintenance; it is about securing a future where our industries can thrive, our communities can grow, and our economy can remain robust and competitive. As we continue to move forward with pro-business legislation to help current and future development within our region and throughout the Commonwealth, it would be a huge disservice if we simply obtain new developers and manufacturers only to be bypassed because the lack of efficient infrastructure prevents the movement and shipment of products produced within our region, throughout Pennsylvania and well beyound.

The future of Westmoreland County, and indeed the future of Pennsylvania, hinges on our ability to maintain and improve our infrastructure. It is a crucial investment in our safety, our economy, and our future prosperity.

Dan DeBone – Provided testimony during the recent National Transportation Research Group (TRIP) press conference regarding the recent bridge repair report.  For additional information on the report, list of deficient bridges and more, please utilize link at

Watch the full video above.



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