Casey in Reading: 'We're ready to fight you' on infrastructure

Senator spoke next to Reading's Penn Street Bridge

READING, Pa. - Pennsylvania's senior United States senator has a message for anyone thinking about blocking the road to improving the nation's aging infrastructure:

"I say, 'Come to the fight. We're ready to fight you,' because this is a fight that's worth having, to rebuild our aging infrastructure, to create millions of jobs, and to move Pennsylvania and our nation into the future."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey delivered that message Thursday morning alongside Reading's 104-year-old Penn Street Bridge, which is currently undergoing a three-year, $42.5-million dollar rehabilitation.

The senator pointed out that the cost to fix the nearby West Shore Bypass, which carries Route 422 between Exeter Township and Wyomissing, is estimated to be more than 15 times that amount, at $650 million.

Casey called on the Trump administration to refocus efforts on investing in such infrastructure and creating jobs in Pennsylvania and across the country.

"We don't have time for people that have an extreme ideology, who don't want to invest in the future," Casey said. "We need to invent the future in Pennsylvania like we've always done. The history of our state, and indeed the history of our country, is a story about investing to invent the future, investing to build a better future."

Earlier this month, President Trump called for spending $1 trillion, and possibly more, over 10 years on projects that can be started within 90 days, but there is concern that the partisan differences over how to pay for it could overtake the bipartisan interest in getting something done.

The Democratic plan calls for government footing the $1 trillion bill; Republicans, not eager for a major government spending initiative, have pushed public-private partnerships. In such a model, private investors put down some or all of the capital to fund a public project and then collect the revenue through things like tolls.

Casey's Pennsylvania colleague has proposed a fully offset, long-term strategy that increases federal transportation funding by more than $100 billion without raising taxes.

Casey was joined by Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt and Randy Peers, the new president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation.

LINK: Sen. Casey on transportation and infrastructure

LINK: Sen. Toomey on transportation and infrastructure

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