Senate committee approves increased penalties for work zone speed violations
The state Senate Transportation Committee has unanimously approved a measure to increase penalties for drivers who injure highway workers. Sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver), the bill would impose fines upward of… [read more]
Pension solution will clear the way for other budget matters, House majority leader says
Public pension reform is the first domino that needs to fall in the budget negotiations, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) told attendees of the PHIA Legislative Breakfast this morning, and once it does, the other dominos… [read more]
APC to seek work zone safety solution
It probably comes as no surprise that speeding through work zones is the top safety concern among highway construction workers. Add to that the increased speed limits on the Turnpike and on sections of some Interstate Highways,… [read more]
NEWS & UPDATES
Mayors want Congress to ‘lead’ on highway bill
The leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors said Monday that convincing Congress to pass a long-term extension of federal transportation funding is a top priority for the nation’s municipal leaders this summer.
The current transportation funding measure is scheduled to expire in July, and it has been a decade since Congress has passed an extension that last longer than two years.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (R), who is also vice-president of the Conference of Mayors, said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show that is time for Congress to step up to the plate and pass a long-term infrastructure funding bill.
“First of all, we’re looking to Washington to take the lead on the transportation bill,” he said.
Bill would eliminate past earmarks to free up money for highways
A Republican senator is pushing legislation to eliminate earmarks that were included in past transportation funding bills that are still on the federal books.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said the measure could generate about $2 billion that could be used to pay for a new transportation funding measure this year as Congress is scrambling to come up with a way to beat a July 31 deadline for the expiration of the infrastructure spending measure.
Flake cited a report from the Congressional Research Service that there are 70 earmarks that are worth more than $120 million still on the books from transportation bill that were passed between 1989 and 2004, although Congress officially abolished the practice when Republicans took over the House in 2010.
Road builders defend proposed gas-tax hike
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is defending its proposal to increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents per gallon to help pay for infrastructure improvements amid GOP opposition.
Republican lawmakers in Congress have ruled out asking drivers to pay more at the pump, even as they struggle to find a way to pay for an extension of transportation funding that is currently set to expire on July 31.
ARTBA President Pete Ruane said in a letter to the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday that a gas tax hike would only add a small amount to the cost of filling up for drivers and would generate $400 billion that could be used to pay for a long-term transportation bill. Read more
PennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $278 million in projects during June, bringing the year-to-date total to just over $1.4 billion. Last year, PennDOT ended the year with $2.6 billion in lettings, the highest since 2009 when the program was boosted by the one-time economic stimulus package. PennDOT exceeded its initial 2014 estimate of $2.2 billion and it was reported earlier that PennDOT’s 2015 anticipated lettings will again be $2.6 billion.
At the end of 2013, PennDOT only bid $1.638 billion in lettings. Act 89 enabled PennDOT to put nearly a $1 billion more projects on the street in 2014 than it was able to do in 2013.
With the recent enactment of the transportation funding bill there is reason to see this trend continue well past 2015. Act 89, which will implement a $2.3 billion comprehensive transportation funding plan over the next five years, will result in PennDOT exceeding the $2 billion construction lettings mark for years to come. Read more
Associated PA Constructors: Poll Shows Strong Opposition To Diverting Transportation Funds
Four in five Pennsylvania voters oppose the idea of diverting funds earmarked for transportation improvements for non-transportation purposes, according to a recent poll.
The poll, conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research and commissioned by Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, showed that 61 percent of Pennsylvania voters strongly oppose and 19 percent somewhat oppose using some of the money generated by increased fuel taxes and license and registration fees for non-transportation items in the state budget.
Defective Highway Design: Personal Injury Post
The causes of motor vehicle accidents are many: negligent drivers, slippery roadways, and sometimes, defective highway design. Many people do not realize that improper highway design may have been the cause of a motor vehicle accident. State and local governments, agencies of state or local governments, or municipalities, can however, be held accountable for creating defective and hazardous roadways.
Recent workzone tragedy example of why motorists must drive slow in highway construction areas
Late last week, a horrible wreck occurred in a construction zone on U.S. Rt. 50 westbound near Parkersburg. The five-vehicle pile-up took the life of West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) worker Randall W. Bland, 49, of Waverly. According to investigators on the scene, he was working to resurface the travel lane of U.S. 50 when the wreck happened.
The tragic death last Thursday afternoon is just another example of why we all need to drive more cautiously, especially through work zones across the state.
Should they stay or should they go? Pa. vehicle registration sticker debate progresses
Vehicle registration stickers may be allowed back on Pennsylvania license plates before the General Assembly’s plan to remove them is even implemented.
The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee voted Wednesday to forward a bill partially repealing a 2013 law that eliminated the requirement to display registration stickers on plates beginning in 2017.
Casey, Lehigh Valley officials call for long-term highway bill
Approving a long-term highway bill would be a sharp reversal from recent years, when federal lawmakers passed a lengthy series of short-term extensions. The most recent, approved in late May, keeps money flowing through July 31.
Pa. bill would allow speed cameras in highway work zones
A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that would allow cameras to photograph the license plates of drivers who speed through highway construction zones.
Senate Bill 840, proposed by Sen. David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) would establish a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement on interstates and the Turnpike.
Fuel tax hike off the table, Shuster tells transportation roundtable
The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says raising the federal gas tax is off the table, but he’s still confident a long-term transportation bill will pass Congress this year.
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., appearing at a transportation roundtable at Georgia Tech Tuesday, said he thinks the funding idea that has the strongest chance of making it through Congress is what some senators call “repatriation,” according to an article that appeared on the website of Atlanta’s national public radio station WABE.
At the Intelligent Transportation Society meeting, the future of transportation looks bright
Americans waste what amounts to 162 lifetimes per day sitting in traffic, and Google’s self-driving car could ameliorate that while improving safety, said Google’s Chris Urmson at the Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) meeting. Much of the conference revolved around cars – especially autonomous vehicles and connected autos – and driving infrastructure. There are tools to monitor bridges for safety and functionality, robots to inspect them, smart traffic signals that can sense traffic and adapt accordingly for a more efficient commute.
The conference painted the future of transportation as big data, more connectivity, and new high-tech tools.
ITS works to improve transportation through research and development of technology, and the meeting, held in Pittsburgh this week, brought together transportation system officials, government administrators, and university and private sector researchers from around the world to talk shop and coo over case studies.
Construction in Public-Private Bridge Replacement Project to begin this month
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards today announced that construction on the Rapid Bridge Replacement Program, a public-private partnership (P3) with Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP), is starting this month.
Through the project, the PWKP team will replace 558 bridges across the state within 36 months. The commonwealth retains ownership of the bridges, but the team is responsible for maintaining each bridge for 25 years after its replacement.
Dangerous roads wait for a fix
Residents Helga Becking, Gail Darcy, and Joyce VanNest were happy to hear that Sawkill was going to get the resurfacing it so desperately needs. But they believe resources have since been diverted to Wilson or some other road. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says it’s doing the best it can with limited resources, lurching from one crisis to another. Sawkill Road won’t even be considered for bidding until 2016.
Sawkill Road is falling apart. In many places, the center is as much as 20 inches higher than the edges. The women say they can’t avoid the gullies on either side of the sloping road, especially when it’s covered with ice and snow. A vehicle could easily slip off into the road below, or tumble into a gully, or both, they say.