When a bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed Friday, Democrats used it as an illustration of why the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan was a great investment in vital roads and bridges.
But behind the scenes for many years, Pennsylvania Democrat leaders siphoned money away from a fund that was supposed to be doing just that.
On Friday, the Forbes Avenue bridge over Fern Hollow Creek and Tranquil Trail in Pittsburgh collapsed. The bridge had a condition rating of “poor” from the state Department of Transportation, according to CNN.
President Joe Biden, who had come to Pittsburgh to tout in infrastructure spending, used the collapse as a way to bolster his case.
“We are so far behind in infrastructure,” he said, according to Triblive, the website of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We used to be first.”
“We’re going to fix them all,” he said, speaking of Pittsburgh’s many bridges.
BREAKING: A bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh hours before President Biden was scheduled to visit the city to talk about the infrastructure bill. Police reported the span came down around 6 a.m. Authorities said there were no initial reports of injuries. https://t.co/oj3FbnvC5n
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 28, 2022
But according to a 2019 report from WHYY-TV, a Public Broadcasting Service station, Pennsylvania state leaders had dipped into a fund for roads and bridges to the tune of about $4.2 billion over the six previous years.
The money mostly came from the state’s gas tax and was used to fund Pennsylvania State Police operations.
“There’s an inherent deal,” then-Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in that report. “You’re going to have this high gas tax, but it’s going to go to fund roads and bridges. And now when they find out it’s not happening, I think that gets people upset.”
“There’s a whopping 57.6 cents of state tax added to each gallon of gas sold in Pennsylvania,” DePasquale said at the time, according to CNHI News.
“Pennsylvanians are frustrated that our roads and bridges still need so much help at the same time we are paying the highest gas tax in the United States,” he said.
Bridge collapses, drops city bus into Pittsburgh ravine
Pennsylvania $2.3B/yr gas tax revenue since 2018 were supposed to fix bridges in need of repairs/replacement.
How did this get missed? Where is the gas tax revenues going?
Biden's $1.6B gift is too late for this one!
— Save Our Republic 🇺🇲🇺🇲 (@R_Canaway) January 28, 2022
But Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf insisted this month he was all for spending on roads and bridges, hailing the funding that the federal infrastructure deal would give the Keystone State.
“Strong infrastructure is critical to the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians, especially strong, safe bridges. Bridges are the lifelines that connect our communities to one another, while modern, reliable infrastructure is essential for Pennsylvania-based businesses to expand,” Wolf said earlier this month when touting the amount that would be spent on bridges, according to a release on his website.
However, the bridge that collapsed was not on the state’s list for funding, according to Fox Business.
Even though the state had no plan to fix it, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman called the bridge a “vital artery” according to CNN.
“This bridge is a vital part of the infrastructure that gets the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill and into the city of Pittsburgh,” he said. “It crosses Frick Park, which is one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks, and it’s just a vital artery here in the city of Pittsburgh.”
“This is a horrible way to underscore just how critical our infrastructure needs are in this country because this is a vital artery in the Pittsburgh area,” Fetterman said. “It literally just collapsed and now we have a situation here … from a transportation standpoint, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to imagine getting around the way this was given the bridge that is collapsed.”