Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Thomas Caramanico

Request that Political Posturing by Candidates re Rt. 422 Wait Until the Facts are In!

The following letter to the editor appears in this week’s Main Line Suburban newspaper. The letter is written by the Tom Caramanico, President and CEO of McCormick Taylor and Co-Chair, Infrastructure Working Group, CEO, Council for Growth. Mr. Caramanico takes to task those political candidates that are jumping ahead and using Rt. 422 in their election strategy before knowing all the facts.

Mr. Caramanico is in the trenches when it comes to the slow process of reconstructing Philadelphia area’s infrastructure. Like many cities in America, Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs need to have serious attention paid to its roadways and bridges. Unfortunately, infrastructure improvements (and paying for it) is something that few elected officials or political candidates wish to discuss. Many candidates feel compelled to assure their constituents of ‘no new taxes’ mantra at all costs.

Is it possible that applying that type of attitude to Rt. 422 may be short-sighted; both for future economic development in the region, as well as safety concerns? Remember that 8-lane bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 which killed 13 people and injured 145. Immediately following that incident there was nationwide discussion on our country’s aging infrastructure and need for improvements, . . . but what has actually happened?

Fast forward to 2010, we have the CEO Council for Growth and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, among other organizations, trying to improve the safety and efficiency of the area’s transportation system. Yet as Mr. Caramanico points out, politics and political posturing by candidates may be slowing the process of discovery. I agree with Mr. Caramanico, we should keep the options open and explore all alternatives . . . not just take the knee-jerk approach and say ‘no’ before knowing the facts.

Although Mr. Caramanico’s letter was not written specifically for the political race between Paul Drucker and Warren Kampf, it should cause those campaigns a degree of pause . . . are these candidates keeping an open mind on the 422 corridor master plan? As an aside, I would suggest that the website is not helpful for those working to improve 422.

Review the letter to the editor – I’d be interested in your comments.

Calmly look at U.S. 422 issues

To the Editor:

More than two years ago, the effort to restore passenger rail service on the R6 line to Reading was on life support because of the lack of federal and state funding, and the most recent version of PennDOT’s 12-year plan does nothing to address the daily 15-mile backup on U.S. 422.

Yet congestion on the corridor is an enormous drag on the region’s economic prosperity. Whether it’s time spent in traffic commuting to work, lost time with family or trucks stalled from delivering their cargo, congestion is costing individuals time and businesses millions of dollars each year.

Although the needs along U.S. 422 are great and the benefits of rail service and highway-capacity improvements are very understandable, it is also apparent that government alone cannot accomplish these goals.

That’s why a group of businesspeople in our region got together to seek a solution now. The CEO Council for Growth along with Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties and other stakeholders along the U.S. 422 corridor commissioned a study to look at the feasibility of financing infrastructure improvements there. The study is in progress and preliminary results are expected this fall. The study will examine a variety of financing options, including an assessment of collecting a toll on U.S. 422 to pay for transportation improvements in the U.S. 422 corridor.

As businessmen and women, we are not committed to any financing option until we have all the necessary information available. Information such as: what improvements could be provided, how would rail service and highway improvements work together, how would we guarantee the money is spent on our improvements and not in other areas of the state, how much would a toll be, and where would it be collected? Only when these and many more questions are answered should anyone take a position for or against the idea.

Unfortunately some candidates running for office have taken a position before all the facts are known. This is a mistake. As statements containing half-truths, pseudo-facts and misinformation come from both political parties, the public is not well served. Sadly for purely political purposes, issues that require mature and reasonable discussion are reduced to a sound bite or simplistic headline.

Worst of all, this kind of political posturing will effectively chase away the private sector. Entrepreneurs and business leaders won’t want to invest in a public/private partnership if they believe the “public” piece of the partnership to be impetuous or, worse, misguided.

This is a call for restraint on the part of our candidates and elected officials. Let all concerns and issues be raised and considered, but please refrain from taking a position for or against any ideas until the facts are known. If the numbers don’t work or the impacts are too great we will all be opposed to it.

However, if there is a way to improve our transportation system in the corridor, we can work on the issues together. When the study is done, let the proposal be discussed and let it rise or fall on its own merits, based on the facts. Let the process work – the success of our region requires it, the public deserves it and these difficult times demand it.

Thomas A. Caramanico, P.E., President and CEO, McCormick Taylor Inc., Co-Chair, Infrastructure Working Group, CEO, Council for Growth

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