PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 9
It costs $600 million a year for state troopers to provide full-time police services in nearly 1,300 municipalities, the state police commissioner said Thursday at a Senate budget hearing. Commissioner Col. Tyree Blocker broke down the per-person — also known as per capita — cost at $234 annually for full-time services to 2.5 million Pennsylvania residents living in those municipalities.
Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing a $25 per person tax on municipalities without a police force to raise $63 million in funds for the state police, a plan bound to have its share of critics. It’s entirely understandable that those who lead municipalities that get their police protection for free from state police would resist any move to change that.
The biggest challenge when it comes to expanding the region’s transportation connections is funding.
Allocations from outside sources that helped ensure the completion of Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale have been discontinued by legislation, meaning PennDOT officials must stay within the funding distributed by the state each year.
With the support of PennDOT, a new steering committee has been formed to look at options for redeveloping Johnstown’s Train Station. In January, community stakeholders began working with project consultants to plan for possible futures for the historic station.
Finishing the Mon-Fayette Expressway probably will take a couple of more decades, but improvements to Interstate 79 in Cecil and South Fayette townships are well on the way.
The chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is leaving to join the state’s casino regulatory agency. Sean Logan issued a news release Thursday saying he’s departing the $28,500-a-year Turnpike position.
PennDOT wants to work with local governments to reduce stormwater pollution of streams. The effort is in keeping with the increasingly stringent requirements of the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System program, initiated by the federal government and enforced by state environmental agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2016, one in five bridges statewide was considered “structurally deficient” – 4,506 in total by the count of American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Only two states — Rhode Island and Iowa — have a higher percentage of bridges classified as “structurally deficient.” In 2013, Pennsylvania’s bridges topped the list.
PennDOT believes it could cost $100 million to replace two bridges along Interstate 84 in Lackawanna County. The twin bridges in Roaring Brook Township are a main artery for truck traffic but now some taxpayers are questioning the cost to fix them.
The university and PennDOT are focusing on educating drivers and people walking. They held an event at the William Pitt Union to kick off PennDOT’s Highway Safety Law Awareness Week.
After years of waiting, plans to replace several troubled bridges in Scranton could soon be moving forward. On Thursday night, city council is expected to introduce legislation to work with PennDOT on the projects.
Recognizing transportation’s role in connecting communities and supporting economic development, state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards today announced PennDOT Connects, an approach that will enhance local engagement and improve transportation-project planning, design and delivery.