A model for how transportation work creates jobs, economy

When the state transportation bill was passed recently, there was lip service paid to the job retention and expansion that can be fueled by road and bridge improvements.

Last week an example of how that footnote can come to life was illustrated in a bridge project in New York State.

As the Tappan Zee Bridge north of New York City is replaced, High Steel Structures Inc. in Williamsport is expanding to provide steel to complete the bridge project over the Hudson River.

High Steel is going to invest more than $11.4 million to support expansion through site improvements and new equipment and is committed to retaining its 700 employees after being awarded the contract to supply steel for the bridge replacement project.

The company plans to add 30,000 square feet to its existing 170,000-square-foot facility.

That’s a lot of economic churn based on a bridge project.

Now consider for a moment the road and bridge projects and improvements planned in our region as part of the $2.3 billion state transportation bill approved earlier this month by the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett.

The end products of the bill – smoother, safer roads and revitalized bridges – are the glamorous part.

But it take people to lay the pavements and reconstruct the bridges. That translates into jobs – quality, well-paying jobs.

There will be hundreds of contracts awarded in the years ahead through the transportation bill. And a bunch of them will help retain and create jobs in the road construction industry in our region.

It’s probably the most underrated part of the benefits package that goes with transportation improvements.