PHIA News Digest – Vol. 21

April 27, 2015

PDSITELOGOCongress could undermine Pennsylvania gains on road spending
Pennsylvania motorists pay a higher gas tax rate than drivers in any other state. But the full boost in new construction part of the money goes toward may not take place this summer if the federal government doesn’t pass its updated highway bill by the end of May.

The federal government pours about $1.5 billion into Pennsylvania transportation spending. That’s about half what the state spends on transportation, and without the federal money, PennDOT would have to “reprioritize” the roadwork planned for the coming construction season, a spokesman said.

Wolf’s picks to lead education and transportation departments clear first hurdle
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s picks to lead the state education and transportation departments sailed through the first leg of the Senate confirmation process Tuesday.

Natural Gas Provides Truck Fleets with Clean Fuel Alternatives in Pennsylvania
Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics were among the companies that celebrated Earth Day 2015 and sustainability advancements being made in the transportation sector. The setting in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, was the grand opening of a Trillium CNG fueling station, with Wegmans Food Markets; NFI, a supply chain solutions provider; and Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA), clean transportation and energy consultants.

Horsham cites transportation as key to economic growth
When a business owner or CEO shows an interest in bringing his company to Horsham, the first thing he talks to Bill Walker about is transportation.

“They want to know what transportation projects are planned,” said Walker, manager of the township. “It’s always ‘Don’t tell us what you like or what you think is good,’ they want specifics. What projects have funding?

“Transportation is still very important to these companies.”

More improvements of major highways on the way
With a growing population and increased truck-freight traffic through the Greater Lehigh Valley, the region is at a transportation crossroads.

Traffic congestion in areas such as Route 222 through Berks County and along Route 22 through Lehigh and Northampton counties is getting worse.

As the population continues to grow, economic development, planning and transportation officials are looking closely at what needs to be done – and how much money needs to be spent – to keep us all moving.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 20

April 20, 2015

PDSITELOGOUnder Pa. consideration: Speed cameras, wider ignition-lock use
Acting Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards and Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Transportation Committee told business and transit executives that Washington gridlock could undermine funding boosts approved by state lawmakers in 2013.

The funding authorization for the federal Highway Trust Fund expires May 31, and if Congress fails to act, “that could pretty much erase the good work that Act 89 has done,” Richards said, referring to a state law enacted in 2013 to increase transportation funding by raising state gasoline tax and vehicle fees.

Bipartisan House duo unveiling gas tax bill today — Lawmakers prepare to punt on long-term transportation funding solution
Reps. Jim Renacci and Bill Pascrell are introducing a bill today aimed at tackling the Highway Trust Fund crisis once and for all. The Renacci-Pascrell bill, first reported by MT in March, would index the gas tax to inflation and then form a sort of Highway Trust Fund supercommittee to find a long-term funding solution. Renacci told MT that many of the details reported in March — including that the committee would be both bicameral and bipartisan — are still accurate. (Refresher: But the Ohio lawmaker wasn’t as forthcoming when asked if he had the backing of other Ways and Means Republicans: “Everybody knows about it,” he said before walking down the Capitol steps Wednesday evening.

Car, bike or motorcycle? Depends on where you live
Last year, we asked people in 44 countries whether they owned certain household items such as microwaves, televisions or radios. We did this in part to explore whether owning more household goods has an effect on life satisfaction – and, indeed, owning more key items increases happiness by a substantial amount.

We also asked whether people have a car, bicycle or motorcycle in their home, and we found major variations of ownership by region around the world. One caveat: We didn’t ask about whether people used these items, just whether they had one in working order. People might primarily use other forms of transportation, such as public transit or walking, in their daily lives. Nevertheless, we found notable differences between economically advanced nations, emerging markets and developing countries Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 19

April 13, 2015

PDSITELOGOVolunteers Needed in Statewide Roadside Cleanup
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is seeking volunteers for this year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, which began March 1 and runs through May 31.

“Pennsylvania is a beautiful state, and it’s imperative that we work together to keep it that way,” Acting Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “I urge individuals to join the thousands of volunteers in their communities to participate in the cleanup this year to keep Pennsylvania beautiful.”

Not all of Pa.’s new ‘transportation’ taxes and fees are paying for transportation work: As I See It
Having spent a worklife in the highway construction business, I was pleased to see the Pennsylvania legislature pass Act 89, the transportation funding bill of 2013. It created a sustainable funding mechanism and went a long way toward shoring up our transportation system, improving safety, relieving congestion and putting people back to work.

Unfortunately, behind the scenes, a considerable and growing portion of that new funding is being diverted from bridge and highway work for other purposes – primarily for the state police, but also for the Department of Agriculture’s weights and measures activities. This is not a transparent funding process.

Shuster says Congress will act on transportation funding this year
The current funding authorization law, MAP-21, was to expire in October, but Congress extended it to May. Mr. Shuster said he doubts a long-term measure can be pushed through by then but predicted action would come later this year.

Transportation Committee Stresses Long-Term Solution On Roadshow
A team of six members of Congress led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster crossed the state of Pennsylvania this week, emphasizing the importance of a long-term transportation bill along the way.

Dubbed the Pennsylvania Roadshow, the event focused on the state of infrastructure in Pennsylvania and the nation as well as the federal-state partnership in infrastructure. Shuster’s committee is responsible for oversight of and legislation authorizing the federal transportation and infrastructure programs. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 18

April 6, 2015

PDSITELOGOStand Up 4 Transportation!
On April 9, supporters around the nation are uniting in their communities and online to send a powerful message to Congress: It’s time to provide long-term investment for America’s transportation network.

Only comprehensive, long-term federal funding will enable us to repair, maintain, and adequately expand America’s public transportation, roads, bridges, ports, and rail systems to help bring our national transportation system up to speed with the 21st century.

Public Encouraged to Participate in Online Pennsylvania Transportation Planning Meeting
As part of the update to the commonwealth’s Twelve Year Transportation Program, Pennsylvanians are invited to visit to provide input on their transportation priorities and to register for an interactive online public meeting on April 16.

The program, which serves as a blueprint of prioritized transportation projects, is updated every two years through a cooperative effort among the State Transportation Commission (STC), PennDOT and its 24 regional planning partners. The goal is to enable all Pennsylvanians to contribute their priorities and suggestions.

How to tax $2.1 trillion in offshore profits?
Large American companies have stockpiled $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits in offshore tax havens, with 26 corporations alone accounting for more than half of those profits, according to a new study from the Center for Effective Government and the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies. In the last 10 years, those offshore profits have surged more than five-fold as corporations seek strategies to reduce their U.S. tax bill.

The massive money stash is causing debate among lawmakers about the best method for convincing those companies, like tech giant Apple (AAPL), to repatriate those profits. One bill from Senators Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, for instance, proposes providing a steep incentive: a tax rate for repatriated profits of only 6.5 percent, or far below the full 35 percent rate that would normally be levied. The Paul-Boxer proposal pledges to use the taxes to fund highway repairs.

No April Fools’ Day Joke: 5,050 of Pennsylvania’s Bridges Need Structural Repair, New Analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation Data Finds
An analysis of the recently-released 2014 U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) National Bridge Inventory database finds good news and bad news when it comes to the most heavily traveled U.S. bridges.  The good news is that there are 168 fewer structurally deficient structures in Pennsylvania than there were in 2013.  The bad news is that it means 61,000 structurally deficient bridges across the nation are still in need of significant repair.  And it is a problem that hits close to home. Read more


Transportation officials are asking for public input in long-range plan update

April 1, 2015

NEW_PENNDOTSetting Pennsylvania’s transportation priorities is a locally-driven exercise. It relies on the input of regional transportation planners and elected officials, who rely on input from community leaders and residents.

Most recently, PennDOT has taken advantage of technology and has encouraged members of the public to offer their views directly to the State Transportation Commission from the comfort and convenience of the home or office. Those agencies are keepers of the Twelve Year Transportation Program, which is updated every two years. It’s now time for that update.

The commission, PennDOT and the 24 regional planning partners will hold a live webcast on April 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. Acting PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards, who chairs the commission, will present an update on transportation issues, and she and other PennDOT staff will answer questions submitted in advance and during the online meeting. Read more