How can we get anyone to listen about the needs on Interstate 81, especially with FEMA operations coming to Franklin County?

March 30 — A Federal Emergency Management Agency will be coming to the exit 3 are of Interstate 81 and yet it appears the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) doesn’t feel the need to work on the highway at all.

Congressman John Joyce joined First News Wednesday morning to discuss issues facing the Keystone State.

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “I’m wondering since FEMA’s involved is there any string you can pull in DC to get us some help for 81 here?”

Joyce said, “I look forward to interfacing with all the community leaders regarding these serious problems…in infrastructure. I have not been impressed with Pete Buttigieg’s work as a transportation secretary.”

The trillion dollar infrastructure bill from the Biden administration spent more time looking at electric vehicle charging stations along the highways than really addressing the true infrastructure issues.

About 10% of the bill ended up being for roads and bridges. And Pennsylvania did not receive the funding that was estimated to complete our portion of the Appalachian Highway development system.

Joyce said, “The Dems have not been supportive of giving us the funding that we need to make our roads safer and more effective right here in Pennsylvania. And that’s another reason that I’m fighting to retake the House of Representatives in 2022, so we can adequately address and put infrastructure funding on infrastructure.”

A lot of the funding also went toward Green New Deal initiatives.

Joyce said, “Americans are not looking for that. They’re looking for safety on their highways and I will continue to advocate for that.”

Ryan pointed out, “Your predecessor, Bill Shuster, as head of the transportation committee and couldn’t get anything done here for decades on 81. Now we’ve got FEMA here putting a building on 81 as a staging area. Is there anything that you can do to move this process forward for PennDOT to pay attention or is it all politics out of Harrisburg and do I lay it at Governor Wolf’s feet here?”

Joyce said, “I think we have a joint responsibility and I work well with the legislators who represent Franklin County. I think it’s issues that we need to address jointly because the funding comes from Washington, funding comes from PennDOT and we will advocate together for that and I will take that up and discuss that further with my colleagues from the state legislature as well.”

Ryan noted, “This one can get fast-tracked and this is what I’m hoping for with FEMA and with the logistics and with the housing exploding around here in this area and the fact that West Virginia can get it done, Maryland can get it done. There is no reason why we can’t get it done especially since FEMA connects directly with you, John.”

Joyce said, “When we re-take the House, which we will do in the next election, it will make those political points much more salient. It will make my job easier to advocate for improvements throughout transportation in our district.”