PA Bridge Collapse Uncovers $4.2 Billion in Tax Revenue for Infrastructure Funding Was Diverted

JU.STOCKER/shutterstock.com

This past Friday, the Forbes Avenue Bridge covering Fern Hollow Creek and Tranquil Trail in Pittsburgh collapsed down into the creek taking multiple vehicles down with it. While 10 people were injured during the crash, there were surprisingly no deaths, despite initial reports that nobody had been injured. Ironically (or perhaps intentionally) this happened the same day President Biden was coming to the steel city to make a campaign stop and talk about a need for infrastructure funding.

While the bridge dropping illustrated his point, it was not something that should have been allowed to happen. For years now the bridge has been listed as ‘poor’ by the PA Dept. of Transportation. This rating is not something the state loves to give out, and they usually put a lot of funding into fixing a bridge like that, or they shut it down. Not this time though.

Back in 2019 local news network WHYY-TV (a public broadcasting station) unearthed evidence of state officials taking money out of the bridge and roads funds. While normally this reappropriation of funding has a good explanation and almost makes sense. However, when the total comes to $4.2 billion, there is a lot of explaining to do. When bridges like this collapse or are in severe danger of collapse the need to make those explanations goes way up.

The origin of most of this funding comes from the tax on gas levied by the state and largely had been reallocated to fund the State Police. Auditor General at the time Eugene DePasquale was quoted as saying “There’s an inherent deal, you’re going to have this high gas tax, but it’s going to go to fund roads and bridges. And now when they find out it’s not happening, I think that gets people upset. There’s a whopping 57.6 cents of state tax added to each gallon of gas sold in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians are frustrated that our roads and bridges still need so much help at the same time we are paying the highest gas tax in the United States.” These taxes have been driving their cost of fuel sky high, especially in recent months.

As people look to find answers to their rationale behind such a boneheaded decision, the state’s Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman are slightly off from one another about fixing the bridge. As Governor Wolf makes his speech about fixing the bridges and how important it is, this bridge was conveniently left off that list. That omission begs the question of how much attention they are paying to fix them in the first place.

By contrast, Lt. Governor Fetterman makes his case for fixing this bridge specifically. “This bridge is a vital part of the infrastructure that gets the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill and into the city of Pittsburgh,” he said. “It crosses Frick Park, which is one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks, and it’s just a vital artery here in the city of Pittsburgh…It literally just collapsed and now we have a situation here … from a transportation standpoint, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to imagine getting around the way this was given the bridge that is collapsed.”

This stark difference makes it incredibly obvious how much change they must undertake to get on the same page. It also underscores just how upset Pennsylvanians should be about the misappropriation of their infrastructure funds. While repurposing tax money is about as American as apple pie, this gross oversight has now become borderline criminal negligence. Perhaps if the state dropped their Democratic leadership and gave being a conservative a real shot they could have better roads and bridges along with proper police funding. Unfortunately, the ‘woke’ masses aren’t ready to talk about that yet. They’ll wait and blame the bridge collapse on someone or something else before they admit their plans have failed.