Infrastructure. It’s a big word that has big implications. Infrastructure that’s in good shape supports a strong economy, creates opportunities for communities, and protects citizens from an increasingly unpredictable natural environment.
Failing infrastructure poses risks to safety, depresses economic activity, and can leave residents and businesses vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding.
Infrastructure is as diverse as buildings and parks, dirt and gravel roads, a broadband network, and water treatment plants.
Governor Wolf has a plan called Restore Pennsylvania that will provide funding to help communities:
- Upgrade and expand green infrastructure, such as local and state parks, state forests, and trails
- Address blight
- Expand broadband access
- Mitigate the effects of localized flooding
“My vision for Pennsylvania includes vibrant towns and cities with new development, opportunities in rural and disadvantaged areas, and a modern, interconnected commonwealth,” said Governor Wolf. “Unfortunately, after decades of neglect and declining federal investment, Pennsylvania is falling behind, and we need a bold plan to get us back on track.”
Case in Point: Shikellamy State Park
Shikellamy State Park marina building
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently toured Shikellamy State Park to discuss how the Restore Pennsylvania proposal could help address a deteriorating marina building, parking lot repairs, river bank erosion, and other green infrastructure needs.
Shikellamy is along the Susquehanna River in Northumberland County.
“Flood waters and time have exacted a very costly toll on a building that once was a magnet for Shikellamy State Park visitors,” Dunn told tour attendees gathered outside the shell of the former restaurant. “Costly demolition and construction does not come easy. It requires the type of financial commitment Restore Pennsylvania can provide.”
“It’s important that our secretary is here today with all the other partners, to take a look at the park, to see how we can move forward,” said Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver at the event. “Getting the funding together will be a long, large conversation that the legislators have to have.”
Friends of Shikellamy State Park member Rob Water said…“Hopefully with the renewed interest in the revitalization of this building, something is finally going to happen.”
Restore Pennsylvania projects will be driven by local input about community needs. Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high-priority, high-impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met.
Secretary Dunn urged communities and citizens who care about state and local park, forest, and trail projects to contact their legislators expressing their support for the plan.
State Park and Forest Needs
Loyalsock State Forest road damage from flooding
The millions of acres of state parks and forests include:
- Thousands of buildings, such as visitor centers, cabins, and bathrooms
- Roads and trails
- Natural resources like lakes, wetlands, and trees
Many of the buildings were built between 1930 and the 1970s, and are showing the impacts over time from wear and tear, and a growing number of visitors.
Several hundred long-term repair and improvement projects of many types -- from as small as $100,000 to as high as several million dollars -- are on a project list that totals around $1 billion.
Reliable and adequate investments are needed to ensure state parks and forests remain places and healthy habitat that can be enjoyed by all Pennsylvanians.
How It’s Funded
Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years on projects across the commonwealth, including new environmental projects and new recreational opportunities, such as:
- Infrastructure and maintenance in state parks
- Creation and revitalization of new local parks
- Funding for new hiking, biking, and ATV trail projects
The plan will be funded through a commonsense severance tax on the extraction of natural gas.
To learn more, view the full Restore Pennsylvania plan (PDF).