PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards held media availability recently to discuss PennDOT’s ongoing projects and needs. One of the more pressing needs she addressed was reliable federal funding. “It helps us if we have a long-term… [read more]

PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

FHWA’s Sigel to Speak at December 8 PHIA Breakfast

The Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) will host a legislative briefing breakfast at 8 a.m. on December 8, 2015 featuring Federal Highway Administration PA Administrator Renee Sigel.  Ms. Sigel will provide an… [read more]

FHWA’s Sigel to Speak at December 8 PHIA Breakfast FHWA's Sigel to Speak at December 8 PHIA Breakfast

Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!

On Thursday, October 1, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will turn 75 years old. It’s estimated that about 10,000 people traveled the turnpike in its first few days in 1940 and sent “Greetings from Pennsylvania Turnpike” postcards. Our… [read more]

Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike! Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!

Roundabouts to grow in quantity, improve safety

Drivers may begin to see more roundabouts in their Pennsylvania commutes, as studies have concluded that they are safer than traditional intersections. One such study was recently conducted in the Lehigh Valley and found that… [read more]

Roundabouts to grow in quantity, improve safety Roundabouts to grow in quantity, improve safety



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 51

November 23, 2015 -- Leave a Comment

PDSITELOGO2Aggressive drivers cause more crashes than distracted and drunken drivers combined in Pa.
Every year, Pennsylvania law enforcement officials and transportation experts meet to go over crash data in order to determine ways of cutting down on “aggressive driving” collisions.

They increase police presence on roadways, try to educate drivers people and make changes to intersections and roadways. But no matter what the state and police can do, stopping “aggressive driving” all comes down to the drivers.

Seat-Belt Use, Impaired Driving a Focus for ‘Operation Safe Holiday’ with app
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) are combining enforcement, education and smartphone technology to make this holiday season a safer one through “Operation Safe Holiday” and the SaferRide app.

Crude oil train safety: no action from Pennsylvania lawmakers
They hug rivers, breeze by farms and cross 100-year-old bridges. They chug past hospitals, schools, stadiums and many, many homes. And sometimes, they derail.

As shipments of crude oil by train have increased nationwide, anxiety over the chance of a derailment happening in a big city, like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, has grown.

PennDOT seeks $400,000 from trucker’s insurance after bridge strike
The bridge strike happened at night on Monday, Nov. 16, when a tractor trailer hauling heavy equipment struck the bottom of the Burgs Lane bridge over Route 30 near Hellam Township in York County, Pa. The strike was severe enough to cause the state department of transportation to order emergency repairs of the bridge, shutting down portions of the roadway due to concerns that a portion of the damaged beam might fall and injure or kill motorists.

DUI patrols, seat belt checks planned for Thanksgiving week
Authorities will be stepping up patrols as Thanksgiving draws near.

A number of agencies have issued notices about enhanced enforcement for the holiday week, and are offering ways to stay out of trouble or harm’s way.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 50

November 16, 2015 -- Leave a Comment

PDSITELOGO2PA transportation head says agency is underfunded
In a retrospective look at 2015, state Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards touted efforts to improve efficiency and customer service, but said Pennsylvania continued to face funding that fell shy of the amount needed to fully maintain the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“We are far short of everything we’d like to do,” said Richards, a former Montgomery County commissioner.

PennDOT aims to stop flow of flooding costs
For the past 10 years, flooding has cost the state Department of Transportation more than $210 million in damage to state roads and bridges.

As a result, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards announced Thursday that the state will conduct a four-phase study to identify current flood-prone areas and areas with the potential to flood in the future and recommend ways to mitigate flood damage to transportation assets.

Gas money siphoned to pay state police
Lawmakers gave Pennsylvania the highest gas tax in the land two years ago to step up the pace of road and bridge repairs. Now, those who lobbied hardest for the tax are questioning where the money’s being spent, as officials dip deeper into the fund to pay state police.

A Republican budget vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf would have diverted $750 million from the highway fund to the state police. Wolf proposed a $739 million shift.

Extra $200M for Pa. road, bridge projects, but it’s still not enough
Pennsylvania’s municipalities will have nearly $200 million extra to invest in their roads this year as a result of state funding decisions, but that still won’t meet all the outstanding needs of worn roads and decades-old bridges.

Local governments will have a collective $626 million this year to put toward their infrastructure, according to PennDOT officials, compared to $437 million before the state passed its transportation funding package Act 89 in late 2013. The extra money includes savings from a statewide bridge repair project and increases in the liquid fuels tax, among other sources.

When and where do we crash?: Analyzing 6 years of PennDOT data
There are few things as pervasive in our lives as the region’s road network. We drive the roads daily – to work, to shop, to travel. We don’t like to think about it, but statistics show that most of us will be in a traffic crash at some point during our lives. Any crash, no matter how minor, can be a traumatic, life-altering event.

It was in that vein that we began reviewing crash statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Our first step: Request data for a single year – 2014.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 49

November 9, 2015 -- Leave a Comment

PDSITELOGO2House approves highway & transit bill
The House of Representatives last week approved legislation that would reauthorize the federal highway and public transportation programs through FY 2021.  While support for the measure was overwhelming and bipartisan, opposition came largely from the extremely conservative wing of the House Republican caucus.  Perhaps most importantly, the House included a Highway Trust Fund (HTF)-related amendment that has the potential to change the dynamics of the reauthorization process as it moves forward.

The package is a combination of the surface transportation reauthorization and policy reform bill approved by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in October and the three-year HTF revenue plan approved by the Senate in July.  The intent of this commingling was to produce legislation that—like its Senate counterpart—would authorize highway and transit investment levels for six years, but only generate enough new HTF resources to fund the first three years of those authorizations.  While the House bill provides essentially status quo investment levels adjusted annually for inflation, the Senate bill would lead to modest program growth beyond the maintenance of purchasing power.

House blocks vote on increasing federal gas tax
Earlier, the House has blocked a vote on an amendment to the $325 billion highway bill that is being considered this week that would have increased the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax by 15 cents. The amendment, from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), would have nearly doubled the fuel tax that is paid by motorists to help pay for federal transportation projects. The proposal was blocked from proceeding to a vote on the House floor by the Republican-led House Rules Committee on Tuesday night.

Highway bill first test for Speaker Ryan
One of Paul Ryan’s first tests as speaker of the House will be passing a long-term transportation funding bill for the first time in a decade. Congress has not passed a transportation bill that last longer than two years since 2005, and lawmakers are now facing a Nov. 20 for the expiration of the federal government’s current round of infrastructure funding. Ryan (R-Wis.) had identified the highway bill as a top priority before he took the House gavel, but the rubber is meeting the road now that he is official the lower chamber’s leader. Read more


PennDOT lets $207 million in October

November 4, 2015 -- Leave a Comment

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $207 million in projects during October, bringing the year-to-date total to just over  $2.2 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.  However, we anticipate that PennDOT will fall short of this projection and finish the year in the $2.4 to $2.5 billion range.

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. Read more


Congress approves three-week highway funding extension

November 3, 2015 -- Leave a Comment

congress progressLast week, Congress acted to extend highway funding for an additional three weeks beyond the current deadline.

The bill authorizes federal transportation funding through November 20. President Obama has outspokenly opposed short-term funding for highways passed in lieu of long-term funding, but is expected to sign the bill. Members of Congress in both chambers have stated that the short-term funding provides more time to work on a long-term bill without defaulting on projects.

Over the summer, the Senate passed a six-year highway funding bill but only included three years of guaranteed funding. The House is currently working on its own version of a six-year bill that includes $325 billion in funding with three years of funding, but cuts off spending after three years if Congress does not establish a funding formula for the final three years. This measure is expected to see a floor vote in the next few weeks.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and raises $34 billion annually, but the federal government spends $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

“Unpredictable funding from the federal government has plagued the highway community for several years,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Infrastructure improvement projects require consistent and reliable funding, and Congress has failed to provide that. Road improvements will slow if a long-term solution is not reached soon.”