INFRASTRUCTURE

A well-maintained, adequately funded infrastructure system is vital to the health and growth of Pennsylvania’s economy. The Commonwealth’s network of ports, waterways, airports, rails, pipelines and public transportation services are the multimodal components necessary for the movement of goods, people and services. In addition, the Commonwealth’s network of water, sewer, stormwater, gas, electric, and telecommunications and broadband infrastructure are necessary to protect the public health, power our economy and allow for the safe, reliable flow of information and ideas. Together, these networks provide accessibility to growth and opportunity. The PA Chamber supports efforts that will reduce regulatory burdens and the time and resources needed to navigate government, as well as eliminate unnecessary costs that impede the ability of the public and private sectors to work together in improving these essential infrastructure networks.

Pennsylvania Releases Broadband Plan, Outlining Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability 

 

In order to compete in a dynamic global economy and expand opportunity to all Pennsylvania businesses and residents, the PA Chamber is advocating for a modern and efficient system of infrastructure, especially when it comes to broadband. In the 2021-22 legislative session that recently concluded, the PA Chamber supported Act 96 of 2021, which established the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, a bipartisan commission to plan and implement federal broadband funding. Recently, the Authority sent the legislature its goals and strategies to improve access to high-speed internet in the state. The plan came just a day before the Federal Communications Commission released its initial round of updated maps, which, when finalized, will inform how much each state receives in supplemental broadband funding from the federal bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

 

The PA Chamber’s Kevin Sunday is co-chairing the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority’s outreach and education subcommittee, along with leaders in local government, building trades, academia and business. The PA Chamber welcomes the input of its members as the Authority’s work on expanding access to broadband unfolds throughout 2023 and beyond.

 

Goals of the state’s plan include ensuring there is accurate and updated data on what areas of the state are unserved and underserved, as well as promoting affordability for access, including for devices and monthly plans through providers.

 

There are several allotments of money that the Authority will administer or leverage. The Authority is currently promoting the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is being administered by the FCC and provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

 

Pennsylvania is also expected to soon receive $278 million, its share of the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund through U.S. Treasury, which was allocated by the 2021 American Rescue Plan. The state is authorized to use this money on capital projects that enable remote work and access to health and education. The Authority filed its plan to the U.S. Treasury in the fall, with the focus on expanding infrastructure to last-mile extensions for unserved areas ($200 million) and anchor institutions like libraries and community centers ($45 million); and to increase device access for underserved populations ($20 million). Importantly, the U.S. Treasury’s program does not include Buy American and prevailing wage requirements that the IIJA’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program will. Pending finalization of program guidelines, the Authority expects to begin accepting applications for the infrastructure programs through these funds in the first quarter of 2023, and for the device access program in the fourth quarter of 2023.

 

Finally, regarding the FCC maps, states and interested parties will have until Jan. 13, 2023 to challenge FCC’s maps through a public comment period. FCC will work with Pennsylvania will receive at minimum $100 million through the IIJA’s BEAD program and will receive additional funding based on how much of its population is lacking access to high-speed broadband. Final determinations on state allocations will be announced in the summer of 2023.

Broadband Expansion Key Piece to Infrastructure Puzzle

March 22, 2022

When people think of ‘infrastructure’, their minds might automatically conjure images of roads and bridges, but it’s so much more than that – ports, rails, pipelines for water and energy resources, public transit …. think anything that helps us sustain our modern-day way of life. Not only is infrastructure a far-reaching issue, our infrastructure network needs […]

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Commuter Services Provides Employers Access to Transportation Resources as a Workforce Development Strategy

November 23, 2021

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, workforce development has become an important topic of discussion as employers compete to fill open positions.  Transportation is one of the major barriers faced by individuals seeking work, and Commuter Services can be a vital tool to help provide transportation resources to both employers and employees.   Commuter […]

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PA Chamber joins Letter on Infrastructure Plan

August 02, 2021

Modern, safe, efficient, and reliable infrastructure systems are a pillar of the PA Chamber’s Legislative Agenda.  These systems, from roads and bridges to telecommunications and utilities, provide the basis on which businesses contribute to the commonwealth’s economy and are a critical component to attracting investment and innovation. As deliberations on a bipartisan federal infrastructure bill […]

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Federal Infrastructure Bill Stalls in Senate

July 26, 2021

Discussions around a federal infrastructure bill are heating up, with both parties taking issue with the process unfolding in the U.S. Senate.  As talks continue, the PA Chamber joined a coalition of local chambers, statewide organizations and businesses urging Senators Toomey and Casey to request action on reauthorization of federal funding for surface transportation for […]

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SCOTUS backs PennEast in Critical Infrastructure Permitting Decision

July 12, 2021

On June 29, in one of its final decisions handed down for the term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in PennEast Pipeline v. New Jersey, a case involving whether New Jersey could deny a right of way on state-owned lands to a federally-permitted pipeline needing construction access. In a win for the project […]

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A well-maintained, adequately funded infrastructure system throughout Pennsylvania is vital to the health and growth of its economy and the surrounding region. The Commonwealth’s network of ports, waterways, airports, rails, pipelines and public transportation services are the multimodal components necessary for the movement of goods, people and services throughout Pennsylvania’s transportation system. In addition, the Commonwealth’s network of water, wastewater, stormwater, gas, electric, and telecommunications and broadband infrastructure are necessary to protect the public health, power our economy and allow for the safe, reliable flow of information and ideas. Together, these networks provide accessibility to growth and opportunity and can serve as a platform to establish Pennsylvania as a leader in innovation.

The PA Chamber supports efforts that will reduce regulatory burdens and the time and resources needed to navigate government, as well as eliminate unnecessary costs that impede the ability of the public and private sectors to work together in improving these essential infrastructure networks.

Airports

Airports located in cities across the state connect Pennsylvania’s people and economy to the global economy, with many airports offering international connections. In addition to safely moving people to their business and leisure destinations, airports allow for hundreds of thousands of tons of goods to be shipped quickly and efficiently across Pennsylvania and the world. Airports also serve as central hubs for economic development in their local communities.  All of Pennsylvania’s airports, whether international or a local airfield, help drive the local economy, generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and serve as economic engines to their surrounding communities, creating more than $22 billion per year in economic activity for Pennsylvania. The PA Chamber supports well-planned, cost-efficient public-private partnerships to provide various means of transportation, including rapid transit, to airports and key transportation terminals.

Ports

Pennsylvania’s three major ports (located in Erie, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) are situated to take advantage of the state’s waterways and other surface infrastructure, including rail, road and air, to serve local, state, regional and international markets’ ever-increasing shipping, transportation and logistics demands. Pennsylvania’s ports must be ready to compete domestically and abroad, particularly in light of the expansion of the Panama Canal. The PA Chamber supports efforts to obtain the highest return on investment in ports already made by the Commonwealth with multi-modal funding, including policies that provide investment in maintenance, upgrades and improvements necessary to be internationally recognized ports.

Railways

Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation in total track mileage and the state leads the nation in the number of operating railroads. Rail helps move more than 170 million tons of cargo in and out of Pennsylvania safely and affordably, allowing manufacturing in Pennsylvania to thrive. The PA Chamber supports efforts to more efficiently improve rail infrastructure in Pennsylvania and opposes efforts to impose state regulations on railroads that are more stringent than federal requirements. The PA Chamber also supports the development of nationally designated high speed corridors that serve Pennsylvania in a balanced manner that does not inhibit the movement of cargo via rail freight.

Water, Wastewater and Stormwater

A safe and reliable network of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure is essential for public health and economic development.  The PA Chamber supports an adequately funded system of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and supports efforts for state and local governments to work together and with private industry in an innovative manner to reduce system costs. To improve the health, safety and economic development in the Commonwealth, the PA Chamber also supports the following initiatives: removing legislative and regulatory barriers that impede private investment in the Commonwealth’s aged water and wastewater systems; streamlining the permitting and construction of projects to replace infrastructure; encouraging consolidation and regionalization of water, wastewater and stormwater systems where cost-effective and beneficial to ratepayers; and encouraging public-private partnerships between government and private industry.

Electric and Gas

A safe and reliable network of transmission and distribution of electricity and natural gas is vital to both public health and a vibrant economy. The PA Chamber supports a well-maintained grid of powerlines and gas pipelines that allows energy produced in Pennsylvania to reach markets and for Pennsylvania businesses and consumers to take advantage of it. The PA Chamber opposes unnecessary regulatory hurdles and costs and supports efforts to streamline the permitting and construction of these vital projects. The PA Chamber also supports regulatory constructs encouraging the expansion of gas distribution systems to unserved and underserved areas.

Telecommunications & Broadband

Well-maintained telecommunications infrastructure, including wired, wireless and broadband, is crucial to an economy that is increasingly reliant on the secure and efficient transfer of data over a diverse array of networks. The PA Chamber supports efforts that reduce the regulatory burden on broadband and telecommunications networks and that do not impose regulatory burdens on wireless networks and VOIP services beyond existing federal requirements. The PA Chamber supports development and implementation of small cell technology, which supports advanced network and data relay technology such as the most advanced wireless and broadband technology to reduce data network congestion. The PA Chamber also supports innovative public-private partnerships between state and local governments and private industry to allow companies to harness public infrastructure to improve the delivery of data, cell and other broadband services.