State Rep. Greg Lucas said his vote for a transportation bill means more than dollars and cents.
Lucas, of Edinboro, R-5th Dist., said his vote concerned the safety of the state’s roads and bridges.
Here is a column that he wrote about his vote:
The children were on their way back from a summer field trip to a water park. They were singing songs and relaxing when, in an instant, their lives were forever changed.
The bridge on which their school bus was traveling collapsed. The bus teetered perilously along a guardrail. Imagine your children or the children of someone you love, stranded on that school bus, wondering if they will ever again be able to see their parents.
This story is real. It took place in 2007. During rush-hour traffic, the westbound bridge carrying Interstate 35 in Minneapolis plummeted into the Mississippi River. More than 100 cars were traveling on the bridge. Thirteen people died as a result of the bridge collapse and nearly 150 were injured.
I share this story with you because it directly pertains to what happened in November in our state Capitol. A bipartisan majority of state representatives and senators voted to approve a transportation funding bill and send it to the governor to be signed into law.
The new law will provide much-needed money to repair Pennsylvania’s aging roads and bridges.
Pennsylvania has more than 30,000 bridges. More than 6,500 of those bridges are considered “structurally deficient.” To put that in perspective, if you drive across five Pennsylvania bridges today, chances are good at least one of them will be “structurally deficient.”
We do not want what happened in Minnesota to ever happen in Pennsylvania. However, fixing our bridges will require money.
The new law will raise revenues primarily by eliminating a cap on an existing tax, known as the Oil Company Franchise Tax. Other money will be generated by increasing the cost of a driver’s license and vehicle registration by $1 during the next two years. These are a reasonable price to pay in an effort to ensure the tragedy of Minneapolis is not repeated somewhere in Pennsylvania.
I could tell you about all of the economic benefits this law will provide. I could talk about the up to 50,000 new jobs that could have been lost if we failed to enact the law. However, arguing over money and job numbers seems petty in comparison to the 13 lives lost when the I-35 bridge collapsed.
You may be wondering what happened to the children in the bus on that fateful day back in 2007. According to an Aug. 3, 2007, New York Times article (“Stunned Victim Turns Hero”), of the more than 60 people in the bus that day, 14 were hospitalized, but – miraculously – no one was killed.
Some may argue this incident happened a long distance away from Pennsylvania. That is exactly the point. We never want to watch a school bus teeter on a guardrail of a collapsed bridge in our Commonwealth. While we can never guarantee it won’t happen, this funding will help to repair our aging bridges.
There are some things in this world, like the lives of children on a school bus, that simply cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
– John Guerriero