Liberate the lonely saw horses

March 30, 2013

OK, let me see if I have this straight. Highway workers make about $20 per hour to dig up and replace streets in all kinds of weather. Tough work to be sure! The guy sitting in the air-conditioned car watching them work makes $50 an hour and the municipality that owns the car and is actively polluting the environment with the unnecessary exhaust fumes also makes $20 per hour. Did I mention the other guy at the other end of the block sitting in another actively-polluting police car that is also making much more than the workmen? Wow, that makes sense!

A recent article in the Observer-Reporter tells us that the state is short $3.5 Billion to fund bridge and highway maintenance. The article discussed our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure and the lack of will on the part of the legislature to fund the problem. A recent study by the governor’s office tells us that Pennsylvania has the fourth oldest bridge inventory in the U. S. and that more than 5,000 of our bridges are “structurally deficient.” So, we have a crisis in our highway infrastructure and no apparent way to fund the necessary repairs yet someone has found $157,855 in 2011, $168,400 in 2012, and a projected $500,000 in 2013 to pay off-duty police officers to watch highway workers work.

Wonder where that money comes from? I’m sure city officials would hasten to tell you that no one really pays it because it comes from the contractors. Wonder where the contractors get their money? They get it from PennDOT plus an additional administrative overhead of about 10 percent. Wonder where PennDOT gets their money? Yeah, I thought you knew!

If I was PennDOT and some municipality told me there was an exorbitant surcharge for fixing highways in their municipality, I wouldn’t fix them. With limited funding, why not go where you can fix roads without the unnecessary surcharge?

Somewhere, in a garage not too far from here, there sits a number of lonely saw horses!

Bracken Burns



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