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PNS Daily Newscast - September 20, 2019 


A whistleblower complaint against President Trump sets off tug-of-war between Congress and the White House; and students around the world strike today to demand action on climate change.

2020Talks - September 20, 2019. (3 min.)  


Climate change is a big issue this election season, and global climate strikes kick off, while UAW labor strikes continue.

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AZ Roads, Bridges, Dams Studied During Infrastructure Week

Engineers say almost 20% of Arizona's 66,000 miles of roads and highways are in poor condition and in need of repairs. (Adobe Stock)
Engineers say almost 20% of Arizona's 66,000 miles of roads and highways are in poor condition and in need of repairs. (Adobe Stock)
May 15, 2019

PHOENIX - After that pothole rattled your teeth on the drive to work this morning, you may be happy to hear that this is Infrastructure Week. Lawmakers are discussing ways to repair roadways, bridges, dams and other projects across the country that are crumbling from age and lack of maintenance.

The White House and congressional leaders are considering a $2 trillion infrastructure improvement plan, but Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative policy with the group Airlines for America, said her group is concerned that they'll try to increase the Passenger Facility Charge to invest in airport modernization, which she said isn't necessary.

"Revenue that's raised on the airport should stay at the airport and be reinvested in the airport," she said. "We support continued robust investment in airport infrastructure. We just don't believe that passengers need to be left holding the bag with increased taxes."

Arizona's airports got high marks - a B-minus - from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its most recent rankings. However, Arizona's 66,000 miles of roads and highways were in poor condition with a D-plus rating. Its dams, water and wastewater systems and public transit systems also were found lacking. The engineers gave Arizona's infrastructure an overall grade of C.

Pinkerton said the state's airports are thriving, with millions of dollars of new construction and investment in recent years.

"Arizona is a very important aviation state with Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; same thing with Tucson," she said. "Aviation and airport investment is robust there."

She said there currently is a $7 billion surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund and it would be unfair to increase the Passenger Facility Charge, which currently is about $4.50 per airline ticket.

"Congress should look at funding for highways and bridges that we know are in great need of repair, very differently from the way they view airport investment," she said. "It's a very different system than the highway system, which is underfunded right now and needs more investment."

Pinkerton said she thinks lawmakers should focus on shoring up the federal Highway Trust Fund, which currently is insolvent, and fund other projects to bring the nation's critical systems back up to standards.

The ASCE report is online at infrastructurereportcard.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ