Sunday, January 02, 2005

The road to nowhere, continued

The Trib takes a good hard look at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and its wasteful expansion projects, including the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass in Westmoreland County. Having family in the western part of Westmoreland County, I've been on that road on a handful of occassions, and I probably could have driven in reverse the entire trip and no one would have been the wiser. Sure enough, the Trib finds that it is carrying nowhere near the amount of traffic that "experts" predicted. It gets better:

The expansion projects, including the unfinished $4.3 billion Mon-Fayette Expressway, already have caused three toll increases.

Even as politicians pushed expansion, the 360-mile mainline was deteriorating. Turnpike officials raised tolls Aug. 1 by an average of 44 percent to pay for reconstruction, which will take 30 years to complete at a cost of $9 million to $10 million a mile.

How does the commission and its friends in the Legislature justify these projects? Why, they will be engines of economic development, of course. But as the Trib's article notes, there is scant evidence that the projects have boosted local economies, and certainly not remotely enough to justify the costs. Rather, the turnpike commission and its expansion projects are a source of political pork and patronage. The more I live in this state the more I realize that it is a bloated and corrupt government, as much as anything else, that holds Pennsylvania back. No amount of highways is going to change that.


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