PHIA News Digest – Vol. 48

November 2, 2015

PDSITELOGO2To save money, states give up on repairing some rural roads
When it comes to road building, Iowa has big ambitions. The state’s largest city, Des Moines, is spending millions to repair or replace four downtown bridges. Planners also want to broaden the last section of U.S. Highway 20 into four lanes spanning the entire state.

But amid the orange traffic cones and construction signs, something surprising is happening to Iowa’s transportation system. It’s actually getting smaller as state and county agencies quietly give up on maintaining many rural roads and bridges to spend on bigger, more essential projects in busier areas. The same pattern is playing out across the country, provoking growing fears in rural areas and elsewhere that the trade-off could make it even harder to eke out a living in many places where opportunity is already limited.

Bartolotta bill balances innovation, protection for Pennsylvania’s transportation network businesses
If Senate Bill 984 is enacted, Uber and Lyft could operate safely throughout Pennsylvania, thanks to Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46), whose proposal was approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee Oct. 27.

SB 984 would create a regulatory framework for the operation of those and similar transportation network companies in all Pennsylvania counties. The businesses are currently allowed to operate in some, but not all, municipalities under a temporary two-year agreement with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC). 

Time to take long road
At the end of the month, the federal highway trust fund law once again will expire after a three-month extension, endangering highway projects throughout America, but there is hope.

Last week, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure unanimously passed a long-term transportation bill.  The offering is a good start, and Congress needs to defy its own politics-ridden predisposition to a long-term bill and get one to the president’s desk.

Rail transportation in Lehigh Valley’s future, says LVPC
With ever-increasing road congestion one of the major concerns of Lehigh Valley residents, the region’s planners are taking a fresh look at bringing back passenger rail service. They are beginning to plan now because creating a passenger rail system anywhere in the United States currently takes an average of 18 years, said Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

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