By VINCE MATTEO
As Governor Corbett launches the effort to address Pennsylvania's transportation funding shortfall, he does so with strong support of the business community.
The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, along with dozens of chambers across the commonwealth, understands the connection between an efficient transportation system and economic success.
That's why numerous Pennsylvania business organizations have made transportation improvements one of their top priorities for 2013.
As Lycoming County's business community continues to prosper, the area welcomes an increase in economic opportunities and job growth.
As many know, Williamsport became the seventh fastest growing metropolitan area in the country in 2010 and enjoy the sixth highest wage increase in the nation in 2011.
With such growth comes increased use of our roads, bridges and overall transportation system. This makes transportation an issue that is close to the heart of Lycoming County for a number of reasons.
From a business standpoint, profitability improves as we are able to move materials, goods and people expeditiously from Lycoming County to anywhere in the nation and world.
Traffic congestion is more than an inconvenience; it's an expense. Having materials, products and people sitting in traffic is not productive.
Detours caused by weight-restricted bridges can be even worse. In addition to wasting time, even relatively short detours quickly affect a business's bottom line with the additional expense of fuel in a truck that may get only six miles to the gallon.
As such expenses are incurred, they are normally recovered in the pricing of products and services, so consumers are negatively affected. While improving our infrastructure will be an expense, it is a necessary investment on which businesses and our customers will receive a return.
Public transit is an important part of the mix as well. Many businesses, even in Lycoming County, would find it difficult to field an office staff or fill a factory shift if their employees were not able to avail themselves of our bus system.
There are broader issues that may not have a direct impact on expenses and profitability, but which are important nonetheless. A very important issue is the safety of our community.
Roadway conditions are a factor in more than 50 percent of fatal traffic accidents.
This is a figure that cannot be ignored, especially in a state that ranks among the worst in the country when it comes to road and bridge conditions.
So, as Governor Corbett and the General Assembly set about addressing our transportation funding issue, the business community is here to help find fair and reasonable ways to fund the needs of our Transportation system.
We look forward to the unveiling of the Governor's proposal in the coming weeks and welcome a comprehensive solution to Pennsylvania's transportation funding needs.
Matteo is president of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.