Argall Demands Written Pledge from New PennDOT Secretary
State Sen. Dave Argall says he won’t approve a new PennDOT secretary if they don’t commit to major highway projects. And he wants it in writing.
He’s reacting to the news that current PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards is taking a job as the new general manager at SEPTA. She starts in January so that leaves a vacancy for PennDOT Secretary, of course. Richards, in prepared statement for SEPTA, says she wants to bring the same approach to it as she did to PennDOT … so God help people served by SEPTA.
Because her work with PennDOT has some fuming, especially over a lack of funding.
Argall to New PennDOT Secretary: “Put It In Writing”
In a letter made public on Monday, Argall writes to state Sens. Joe Scarmati, Jake Corman, and Kim Ward. Argall says, “Each Senator will have to make his or her own decisions regarding this upcoming appointment by Governor Wolf.”
Obviously, the governor appoints the PennDOT secretary. Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Richards in 2015.
“My position is this,” Argall continues in his letter. “I will not vote to confirm any new PennDOT Secretary who fails to give me a pledge in writing to complete the major highway projects in this region that have been promised repeatedly to me and to the people that I represent in the past, along with a detailed plan as to how this will be accomplished.”
Now, this sounds like a lot of political bluster. You may be thinking to yourself — especially if you’ve voted for Argall in the past — “Give ’em hell, Dave.” But again, this could just be bluster.
The new PennDOT Secretary, whomever Wolf chooses, could agree to this, get confirmed, and turn their back on the “pledge” he demands.
But Argall’s reacting to what he learned at a recent workshop he hosted alongside fellow Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11) in Berks County. According to a report from The Shenandoah Sentinel, during that workshop, we learned that the Route 61 project scheduled for “The Grade” from Saint Clair to Frackville isn’t even close to fully funded.
The project is expected to cost about $65 million and not start until 2022 … maybe. If it doesn’t get more funding, it’ll never get done.
Right now, the state currently only has about $8 million set aside. That’s because PennDOT wants to divert funds from projects like state highways to bigger interstate projects, per federal mandate.
Of course, there’d be more money for these highway projects if PennDOT hadn’t already diverted