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Letters to the Editor - June 20

June 20, 2013

Pa. roads, bridges need state funding now

To the editor:

The state Senate on June 5 approved, by a 45-5 vote (Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Adams/Franklin/York, supported the proposal), a comprehensive transportation bill that will provide additional funding to Pennsylvania’s deteriorating transportation system. The proposal will increase Pennsylvania’s annual transportation investment by $2.5 billion.

This investment is needed, and I urge the state House of Representatives to approve Senate Bill 1. Improving our roads and bridges is long overdue, and providing a safe and reliable transportation system is a core function of government.

The money for the improvements outlined in the bill will come primarily through gradually phasing out the wholesale price cap on fuel under the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which was put in place in 1983. The last funding increase approved was 16 years ago.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been unable to maintain our roads and bridges properly because of a lack of funding. Today, Pennsylvania leads the nation in structurally deficient bridges, and of the 44,000 miles of state-owned roads in Pennsylvania, 9,000 miles (23 percent) are rated in poor condition. Of the 4,400 structurally deficient bridges, 650 are weight-limited, and another 50 have been closed.

This lack of maintenance is costing each driver in Pennsylvania. The Road Information Program released a study last month estimating that Pennsylvania roadways are costing the state’s residents about $9.4 billion annually — in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, as well as in costs of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.

If the proposed legislation is approved by the Pa. House of Representatives, at least 50,000 new construction jobs will be created. This will boost the economy and lead to more economic growth. The answer is before us: Pass the bipartisan bill recently approved by the Senate.

David G. Sciamanna, president
Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce


Big-name performers would help theater’s attendance

To the editor:

I must agree with Cullen Coleman’s letter to the editor (June 14) regarding the utilization of The Maryland Theatre. I recall more than 20 years ago attending performances by Harry Belafonte, the Smothers Brothers, Phyllis Diller, Johnny Cash, Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Kitty Wells and so many others. Yet, I cannot recall attending a performance in the last five years.

I regularly travel to California for performances at the 1,127-seat McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. The shows I’ve attended have been well attended, and over the years I have been lucky enough to see acts such as Jack Jones, Keely Smith, The Ten Tenors, Frankie Randall, Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, and many others. Their season offers a variety of shows for all ages, and the upcoming season has sold out the premium-level seats for shows such as Michael Feinstein, Frank Sinatra Jr., Vince Gill, Shirley MacLaine, One Night of Queen, Patti LuPone, The Boston Pops, The Kingston Trio and Lucie Arnaz, to name a few.

Our Maryland Theatre is a much nicer theater with its almost 100-year history. Certainly, if it offered even one-quarter of the season the McCallum does, properly advertised, downtown Hagerstown would become the arts destination it deserves to be.

Cynthia J. Shank
Hagerstown


County Commissioners must enforce APFO

To the editor:

At the June 11 meeting of the Washington County Commissioners, the developer of the Collegiate Acres subdivision brought a “mitigation” proposal for the construction of 271 apartments in the North Hagerstown High School district. According to the information provided to the commissioners from the school board, this development would add 98 students to the recently renovated Maugansville Elementary School. Combined with other developments already approved by the commissioners, this proposal brings Maugansville to 193 students over capacity.

Additionally, this development will leave Western Heights 52 students over capacity and will leave North High a whopping 454 students over capacity. Furthermore, the developer did not offer to pay for any of the more than $8 million in school construction costs required for this development.

Citizens for the Protection of Washington County (CPWC) finds this completely unacceptable. Since taking office, these commissioners have ignored the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), which requires infrastructure (school, roads, etc.) to be adequate before approving new development, thus allowing schools to become overcrowded. They have also exempted development from paying for adequate infrastructure through the excise tax. As a result, even during the economic downturn, schools have continued to become more crowded and revenue to solve the problem has dried up.

This proposed development will be composed entirely of apartments and looks eerily similar to the Cortland Manor development, which has caused yet another round of school redistricting.

CPWC demands the commissioners enforce the APFO. Allowing any school to be over capacity is unacceptable. Allowing North High to become 450 students over capacity shows a complete lack of respect for the citizens of this county.

Joe Lane, president
Citizens for the Protection of Washington County

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