In this Update:
A Bittersweet Announcement – Thank You Taylor Muñoz and Good Luck!
Taylor Muñoz has been my Chief of Staff since starting in the Senate five years ago. Taylor has represented me at countless meetings, Eagle Scout ceremonies, and events throughout the 40th Senatorial District. Taylor has been a true steward in making tough decisions with the compassion to listen to the needs of others. I am blessed to have many great staff members over my years serving the Commonwealth and Taylor had been one of the best. Therefore, it is bittersweet to see him go. It is with great pride I announce Taylor has accepted the position of Manager at Pocono Township. Taylor, thank you for everything. It has been my privilege of having you as a staff member and you will be greatly missed.
Don’t Fall for Fear-Mongering Surrounding I-80 Expansion Project
The following article was printed in the Pocono Record on March 9th:
In light of continued misinformation swirling regarding the Interstate 80 expansion project, I want to offer one final perspective as the project design nears completion. I have spoken with many individuals on both sides of this project and, while I believe we share many of the same concerns about I-80, we differ as to the reality of how to address the concerns looking into the future.
First, I want to be clear that this is not “Mario Scavello’s project” — this is a project endorsed and funded by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration using federal safety funding earmarked solely for federal highway safety. As a state legislator, my only role has simply been to convey factual information about this project and advocate for a design that lessens the impact of the highway expansion as much as possible while also improving the highway for the future.
Federal studies — factual studies — show that this section of I-80 through Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg is the most dangerous section of the entire I-80 corridor. The original corridor study from the early 2000s was updated just last year and the data — factual data — shows that this corridor has only gotten worse in terms of safety and accidents.
As has been stated numerous times, the current average daily traffic exceeds 70,500 vehicles per day and by 2045 the figure climbs to 132,800 vehicles per day, including a dramatic increase in truck traffic. 20,000 vehicles per day enter I-80 East off 209 just to get off at Marshalls Creek a few exits away. This project is to ease both local commutes and pass-through traffic.
To date, there has not been a single feasible solution proposed as an alternative to expansion of the existing highway. Various proposals have included expanding the existing shoulders, adding an express lane over the existing highway, expanding passenger rail or constructing a bypass.
Ironically, those who claim they are concerned about the environment on one hand have also proposed building an entirely new highway that would have an exponentially greater impact on the environment and surrounding communities.
Each alternative proposal has failed due to the financial improbability, logistical impossibility or inability to address critical congestion issues in the near-term. The FHWA is not in the business of building new highways – they are in the business of addressing safety issues on existing highways, improving the flow of traffic and adhering to current design and environmental standards.
Some have said we should spend the $600 million on surrounding roadways.
Unfortunately, contrary to what some have stated, federal transportation funding is specifically for federal highways. Our community could not simply tap these funds for improving surrounding roads.
When I-80 was constructed, there were little to no environmental standards, no concern for pollution to area waterways and no attention paid to air quality.
Through the reconstruction process, these issues will be remediated to “better pre-existing conditions.” Drainage basins will filter water that otherwise would go directly into neighboring waterways. As flow of traffic is improved, air quality will improve as vehicles do not sit idle during peak congestion. For any impact on wetlands, regulations require that those wetlands be reproduced elsewhere.
And, in the big picture, funding is already being secured to begin the next phase of expanding three lanes all the way up through Scotrun.
Unfortunately, some who oppose the I-80 expansion have deliberately spread misinformation that has made it all the more difficult for PennDOT to clarify the actual impact of the project.
Opponents to the I-80 project have sent letters to local residents and used outdated information regarding the project to instill fear, instead of sharing the ways the project impact has improved since its inception.
If you want to discuss this project or any concerns you may have, I would like to have a conversation with you directly. You can reach me at any time at 570-269-6349. My focus is and will continue to be on the long-term needs of this highway.
Stay Informed on Coronavirus
I strongly encourage you to stay up to date on the developments regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus). The Pennsylvania Department of Health has unveiled a new webpage to keep residents up to date with the latest information. This page is updated daily. It is a great resource to make sure you know the facts.
College & Career Fair April 30th
On April 30th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., I am hosting a College & Career Fair at Nazareth Area High School (501 E. Center Street, Nazareth).
This event is specifically geared toward high school students looking to further their education at college or in the skilled trades.
We have many exhibitors registered so far and representatives from many PA-based colleges and technical schools who will be in attendance. Please reference the flyer for more information.
The Fair includes a special Financial Aid Review session at 6 PM for parents and students to learn the ins and outs of paying for higher education. Please register for this free session below!
For a list of exhibitors and to register, please visit www.senatorscavello.com/learn-more.
Visiting the Legendary Landmark Detzi’s Tavern
On the latest edition of Legislative Report, I visit Detzi’s Tavern Inc., a family owned and operated restaurant and bar in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. I sat down with the Detzi triplets, Joe, John and Jeff to learn more about the legendary landmark in the Lehigh Valley for over 50 years.
Around the 40th District
This past Friday, I joined Senator Pat Toomey as he visited Pocono Raceway and other large employers in our area critical to the tourism industry and local economy.
It was a pleasure reading to students of Morey Elementary recently as part of Read Across America. What a privilege to be part of their learning and witness the work of our outstanding teachers. I read to Ms. Warren’s and Ms. Intravaia’s 3rd graders, Ms. Buskirk’s 4th graders, and Ms. Caputo’s Kindergarteners.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Last Sunday, Charles Pavis, Connor Nissen and Luke Wladyslawski of Troop 352 in Bethlehem earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Only attained by a small percentage of all Boy Scouts, this monumental achievement represents the great sacrifice and tremendous efforts that has been made by these young men. Congratulations Charlie, Connor and Luke!
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