HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As indications grow stronger that the General Assembly will consider a $2.4 billion transportation funding measure next week, a trade association for the highway construction industry noted that nearly 60,000 jobs are riding on the measure's success or failure.
"It's a pretty simple equation," said Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors. "If the bill passes, Pennsylvania adds 50,000 jobs. If it fails, Pennsylvania loses 9,600 jobs."
Latham said the analysis, prepared by the chief economist of the Washington-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association, took into account not only highway construction jobs, but the jobs that transportation spending supports across all sectors of the economy.
"Of the 60,000 jobs, almost three in every five are in something other than highway construction – everything from manufacturing, to health care, to retail, to travel and tourism," he said. "An adequately funded transportation program would have a very positive impact throughout the economy, in addition to providing revenue for much-needed repairs and safety improvements."
The original ARTBA study was done in 2010 and was premised on an additional spending level of $2.5 billion. Later that year, the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended increasing funding by that level.
The transportation funding gap at that time was about $3.5 billion annually, according to earlier analyses of the issue. It has since grown to around $4.5 billion as legislators and the administration have been unable to reach a consensus on how to address the problem.
Earlier this year, the original study's author, Alison Premo Black, examined the economic impact of reducing bridge and highway lettings by 25 percent per year, which would be the likely result of failing to address the funding issue. Dr. Black concluded that such a cut would cost the state economy $1.25 billion over a five-year period, and put as many as 9,600 jobs permanently at risk.
Latham noted that jobs and the economy have been the top concerns of Pennsylvanians for some time. Polling conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research has shown increasing concern for the problem and consistent support for making a modest investment to improve safety and relieve congestion.
"The research has shown repeatedly that nearly six in 10 Pennsylvania voters are willing to invest $2.50 per week for improved safety and less congestion," he said. "That's just about exactly what a $2.4 billion solution would cost a typical motorist, who is currently wasting several times that much because of poor road conditions, congestion and detours around closed or weight-restricted bridges.
"Even that relatively strong support increases significantly when they're told that an additional $2.5 billion would create 50,000 jobs, and that the majority of those jobs would be in industries other than highway construction."
Associated Pennsylvania Constructors includes more than 400 members, including prime and subcontractors, consulting engineers, material suppliers, manufacturers, and others with an interest in Pennsylvania's road and bridge construction industry.
SOURCE Associated Pennsylvania Constructors