"This is not just a matter of personal convenience. It's about safety, our livelihoods, economic competitiveness, and our quality of life," Bradley Mallory, PennDot executive deputy secretary, said at a firehouse in the upper Bucks County borough. He was flanked by officials from Sellersville and the county, among others.
Mallory's boss, PennDot Secretary Barry J. Schoch, was supposed to be there but had been summoned to Harrisburg to discuss the bill with lawmakers.
Les Toaso, PennDot's District Six executive, led reporters on a tour of some of Sellersville's dilapidated bridges. Some of the steel bearings on one, built in 1927, were rusted out, requiring a 15-ton weight limit. The average loaded school bus weighs 17 tons.
Gov. Corbett has been pushing the legislature to pass a bill to boost much-needed transportation funding, a big talking point in the Republican's reelection campaign, which kicked off this week.
In June, the state Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 billion bill to help repair thousands of aging bridges and miles of roads while pumping more money into transit. The bill would increase driver's license and vehicle-registration fees and put a hefty surcharge on speeders and other traffic-law violators.
But House members have had trouble finding common ground, particularly over the issue of how much workers on state transportation projects will be paid. Republicans have contended those wages, which are set by the state, are too high and want to change the rules on which projects should require them.
Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democratic caucus, said the prevailing-wage issue remained a hurdle. But he said lawmakers' staffs had been meeting almost every day to find a solution.
Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), said leaders of the legislature's four caucuses made "good progress" at a meeting Wednesday, although he declined to discuss specifics.
"We're certainly in a better position now than we were before the beginning of that meeting," he said.