The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 5, 2013

Another unfulfilled promise?

Daily Item

---- — As president and CEO of the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, Maria Culp has more than a passing interest in the Susquehanna Valley Thruway. She understands better than most the potential impact a project of that magnitude could have in the Valley.

She spoke for everyone this week after learning the huge transportation bill was not moving out of Harrisburg.

"We were led to believe the transportation bill wasn't going to be a heavy lift," Culp said this week. "What actually ended up happening is the same thing that keeps happening. Everybody talks about it, when it comes down to a vote, it doesn't happen."

This failure puts the breaks on the latest thruway plan. Unless it can be rescued in the fall, it looks like another plan will have come and gone without the bypass becoming a reality.

It never does. How many press conferences have come and gone without action? How many lawmakers have told constituents the Thruway was their top priority? How many promises have been broken?

The answer to all of those questions is the same: Too many.

All versions of the project have been ambitious. It remains, as it was decades ago, a tough sell in Harrisburg or Washington, where there has been an obvious reluctance to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for a 13-mile stretch of road that is not in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.

This latest version was supposed to be different. It was "finally, finally, finally" going to happen because the plan was fool-proof. Well, as fool-proof as giving your constituents the highest gas tax in the nation can be, hoodwinking them and saying someone else is raising their taxes, not the government.

Business owners and residents were hopeful that this was the time. There were maps and buttons and bumper stickers. Unfortunately, they were also at the last two or three press conferences, too.

So now another generation will go on wondering why there is a road near Selinsgrove that doesn't lead anywhere.

The adage is "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (or three or four times) and shame on us." Instead, shame on the politicians who boasted that this was it, the thruway is coming. And shame on us for buying it again.

Don't get our hopes up next time until a shovel is ready to go into the ground.