Senate committee approves increased penalties for work zone speed violations

June 30, 2015

Road constructionThe 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 $1,000 for irresponsible driving in areas of road construction. These fines increase to $5,000 and a six-month suspension of the driver’s license if a highway worker or emergency responder is injured. Finally, if a highway worker is killed in the accident, drivers would pay a fine of up to $10,000 and lose their licenses for up to one year.

According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 workers are injured every year in highway and street-construction accidents. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 30

June 29, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Mayors 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’s June lettings total $278 million

June 26, 2015

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT 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


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 29

June 22, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Associated 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.



Pension solution will clear the way for other budget matters, House majority leader says

June 17, 2015

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 will soon follow.

Reed explained that public pension obligations are the No. 1 cost driver for both the state and for school districts. He said the primary focus is pension fund stability over the long term rather than immediate relief.

However, he was not optimistic about the prospects of a solution to the raiding of the Motor License Fund. Currently, more than $700 million from that fund goes to support the State Police, approaching three-quarters of the State Police budget. While many would like to see that number reduced, Reed stated it would be nearly impossible to do so in a year in which they must address a $1.2 billion structural deficit. He agreed that the problem should be addressed in a gradual fashion in coming years. Read more