On June 13, Huntingdon County Business and Industry along with the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, both KTFC members, held a transportation panel discussion and luncheon. The event was held at the Huntingdon Country Club and approximately 60 people were in attendance. The panel included PA Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Jim Ritzman; Associated PA Constructors and Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition Robert Latham; Associate State Director of Federal Advocacy at AARP Desiree Hung; Mission: Readiness PA State Director Steve Doster; and it was moderated by Huntingdon County Business and Industry Executive Director Amy Wise. Elected officials in attendance included Senator Eichelberger; Keith Black from Representative Mike Fleck’s office; Mike Glazier from Congressman Glenn Thompson’s office; County Commissioners Dean Fluke, Gary O’Korn and Jeff Thomas; and former State Representative Sam Hayes.
Deputy Secretary Ritzman spoke about the many ways that PennDOT is modernizing its daily processes in order to use funding and resources as efficiently as possible. He also touched on transportation issues in the Huntingdon County area and future degradation of existing roads and bridges if additional funding is not passed.
Bob Latham spoke about the effects of transportation on local, national and international business levels. He mentioned the need to stay competitive with neighboring states that have recently passed major transportation funding legislation in response to lack of federal funding. He also noted the cost of doing nothing heavily outweighs the cost of a comprehensive transportation package, referencing the approximately 10,000 permanent layoffs that will occur without funding verses the 50,000 new jobs created if SB1 is enacted.
Desiree Hung began by explaining that a quarter of the population will be over 65 by 2040. With this change comes the need for improved lighting, sidewalks, and public transportation in order for members of this age group to retain independence and stay engaged in the community. This issue is especially prevalent in Huntingdon County where the elderly population continues to grow faster than any other age group.
Steve Doster tied-in the role of walkers and bikers in the comprehensive transportation system and its effects on congestion relief, local tourism industry and public health. He added that transportation is one of the few issues that touch every single person, which is why funding must be for a multi-model plan.
The event was concluded with a few questions from the audience concerning fund disbursement among districts, and transit and highway expansion in the Huntingdon County area. The event was covered by For the Record on WHVL, WTAJ-10 (coverage here), WJAC-6 and The Daily News (coverage here).