Senator Fontana attended the 32nd Annual Brookline Breeze on Saturday where hundreds of runners and walkers participated in the race. Senator Fontana is pictured here with Breeze Race Director Clint Burton and City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak during the awards presentation.
With summer vacation travel in full swing and students throughout the state returning to school at month’s end, hundreds of thousands of travelers will be utilizing Pennsylvania roadways. Residents and visitors alike deserve a safe and reliable transportation infrastructure system. We have a responsibility to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring which is why a comprehensive transportation funding plan must be the priority when the Legislature returns to session this fall. Improvements to transportation infrastructure is an issue, where we can all agree, that needs to be addressed and allowing politics to get in the way of a sustainable transportation funding proposal is completely unacceptable.
The Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) with overwhelming bi-partisan support. However, several members of the majority in the House felt that the need for a significant allocation for public transportation was unnecessary. With so many residents relying on what’s left of limited mass transit services or everyday activities like getting to and from work, the grocery store or doctor appointments, how can we leave this essential means of transportation out of a funding package?
As elected officials, we have a responsibility to provide residents with services to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people. In July, a Senate Transportation Committee hearing took place where the Secretary of Transportation announced that over the next several weeks, new weight restrictions will be placed on thousands of state and locally owned bridges across Pennsylvania to guarantee safety. In Allegheny County, 43 restrictions will be put in place on “structurally deficient” bridges resulting in longer commute times for residents due to these limitations. As a consequence, children will be riding buses even longer to get to and from school and emergency services could be received in a less efficient manner.
Secretary Schoch also stated that not passing a comprehensive transportation funding plan will have a significant economic impact on our state that will be felt for many months to come. For example, these weight restrictions will put Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage with other states because many trucks will be forced to choose an alternative route on our already burdensome roadways due to these weight limits. These vehicles may also not be able to carry the maximum quantity of product or material thus making the commute not as profitable for both the trucking company and the business that will be receiving the product. This will result in creating additional demands for goods and services throughout the state.
Spin-off industries will also be negatively impacted by the trickledown effect with Pennsylvania’s inability to pass a transportation plan. Industries that create road and bridge material as well as the money people such as construction workers would spend from their paychecks for everyday needs at the local grocery store, restaurants or other services like haircuts and car maintenance will be scaled back and not invested into local economies.
According to an analysis conducted by the American Roads and Transportation Builders Association, Pennsylvania could lose nearly $1.25 billion annually in economic activity and almost 9,600 people would be unemployed if significant funding is not allocated towards a transportation plan. Furthermore, the Association cites that nearly 2,500 jobs in retail, administrative and health care industries could be at risk.
It’s been two years now since the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended raising $2.5 billion for our aging bridges, miles of unsafe roadways and underfunded public transportation system. Passing a comprehensive transportation funding plan is not only essential for a safe and reliable means to travel throughout the state, but also an economic driver for so many industries located in the Commonwealth.
At a time where we are trying to rebuild our local market base, a new infusion of money will go directly back to our residents in the form of employment, improved access to goods and services and, most importantly, safe and reliable transportation systems. In the mean time, more and more essential services and the means to get to these places are quickly being cut or eliminated. Add to that the nearly $9.4 billion annually it is costing our state’s taxpayers in operating costs, congestion delays and traffic accidents. It’s just too costly and irresponsible to continue to sit back and allow our transportation infrastructure to continue to crumble before our eyes.
Did You Know…
Did you know that nearly one out of every four bridges in Pennsylvania has been deemed structurally deficient and that Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state in the country?
25 Days Until FontanaFest! – The 9th Annual FontanaFest will be held on Saturday, September 7th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at South Side’s Riverfront Park (bottom of 18th Street at the river). The community event
highlights many of the family-oriented activities that can be done on or near Pittsburgh’s three rivers. Join us for a FREE day of family fun with activities on the rivers, free food and drink, inflatables, crafts and pony rides. Pittsburgh Water Limo will be offering free boat rides during FontanaFest with rides scheduled for 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. A limited amount of tickets can be picked up at the Welcome
Booth as you enter the park. The PA Fish & Boat Commission will also provide canoes and kayaks for attendees to take out on the Monongahela.
Be sure to visit www.fontanafest.com to view a listing of all participating organizations and sponsors. Several organizations will also be present to provide children and families with important educational information and activities. It’s rain or shine – but I have every confidence we will have another beautiful day, so please come out and enjoy!
Town Hall Forum – Affordable Care Act
The University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State Health Insurance Assistance Program (APPRISE), and the Allegheny Link to Aging and Disability Resources, are partnering to host a Town Hall Forum that will provide an overview and the impact of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to consumers. The Town Hall Forum is scheduled for October 2nd, from 9 a.m. – noon at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Club, Ballroom B, located at 123 University Place in Oakland.
Specifically, panelists, which will include health care professionals, representatives from the insurance industry and representatives from federal and state agencies, will provide an overview of the Affordable Care Act and how the federal law will impact accessing health care coverage in Pennsylvania, in particular the characteristics and function of the Health Insurance Marketplace in Pennsylvania. There will also be an open forum allowing attendees to ask specific questions to the panel.
The Health Insurance Exchanges (now officially referred to as Market Places) are scheduled to go into effect nationally on October 1st and consumers in need of health care coverage will be able to shop for coverage by visiting www.healthcare.gov. The Town Hall Forum will explore the options that will be available to consumers in Pennsylvania and address some of the frequently asked questions about the Health Insurance Exchanges. It will also address the broader implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, such as the impact of the Act’s provisions on the Medicare and Medicaid systems.
If you are interested in attending the Town Hall Forum you must RSVP in advance, as space is limited. To RSVP, please email McKendreeW@FSWP.org.
SBA Loans Available in Allegheny County
I want to remind residents and businesses affected by the flooding and severe storms that hit our region between June 26th and July 21st that they can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Low interest loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace destroyed or damaged real estate. Loans up to $40,000 are also available to homeowners or renters to replace destroyed or damaged personal property. Additionally, businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow up to $2 million to replace or repair destroyed or damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets according to the SBA.
Any homeowners or business owners can call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster and must be filed no later than September 27th.
Tomato and Garlic Festival – Supporting Food Bank
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in conjunction with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is hosting the 9th Annual Tomato and Garlic Festival on August 25th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the Conservatory's front lawn and Outdoor Garden. Admission to Phipps that day is free to anyone who brings a bag of fresh produce to donate to the Food Bank.
The Tomato and Garlic Festival focuses on fresh, local produce and its many culinary possibilities. Attendees can sample a variety of dishes from Café Phipps, view a cooking demonstration from Restaurant ECHO Executive Chef Brian Hammond, and shop at a farmers’ market featuring organic and Certified Naturally Grown produce. The event also features the Red, Ripe and Roasted Tomato Contest where home gardeners can enter their ugliest, smallest or largest ripe tomato for a chance to win special prizes. For more information on the Tomato and Garlic Festival, please visit the Phipps Conservatory website.
Brookline Business Feature
This week’s featured Brookline business is Party Cake Shop, located at 706 Brookline Boulevard. Party Cake Shop is a family-owned business and has been located along the Boulevard since 1961. They offer customers a variety of cakes for all occasions as well as cookies, donuts, pies, breads and other pastries. Party Cake Shop is open Tuesdays – Fridays, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturdays, 6 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sundays, 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more information on Party Cake Shop, you can visit them online at www.partycakeshop.com or call 412-531-5322. Please continue to support local merchants during the Brookline Boulevard Streetscape Project and remember:
Brookline is open for business!
Shiloh Street Block Party
The Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) is hosting the Shiloh Street Block Party on Saturday, September 28th from 6 – 10 p.m. The party is being held at the 200 block of Shiloh Street and includes music by The Pressure, drinks in the open air and food being sold by local vendors. Discounted tickets are available until September 1st. For more information on the Block Party, to purchase tickets, or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, please visit www.mwcdc.org.
August is Produce Month in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s vegetable industry generates more than $155 million annually to Pennsylvania’s economy with 4,300 farm families producing more than 200,000 tons of vegetables for fresh market and processing.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216