PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 13

March 27, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Uber suspends self-driving car program after crash in Arizona

Uber Technologies Inc. suspended its pilot program for driverless cars on Saturday after a vehicle equipped with the nascent technology crashed on an Arizona roadway.

The accident caused no serious injuries, Uber said. Even so, the company said it was grounding driverless cars involved in a pilot program in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco pending the outcome of investigation into the crash on Friday evening in Tempe.

PennDOT opens bid for Route 15 bypass interchange work

Bids have been opened for the third and next to last contract for the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project.

New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc. of New Enterprise submitted the low bid of $37.2 million to build the Route 15 interchange near Winfield, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The project includes 1.5 million cubic yards of earthwork, four bridges, reconstruction of nearly a mile of Route 15 and a temporary bridge over that highway to accommodate earth-moving operations.

Report: Pennsylvania State Police ‘overfunded’ by $222M last year

Pennsylvania State Police received hundreds of millions of dollars last fiscal year from the Motor License Fund that it shouldn’t have, according to a new legislative report.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee’s report, released this week, determined the $755 million that state police received in 2015-16 from the Motor License Fund to cover highway safety expenses was $222.2 million too much, based on the committee’s calculation of “appropriate and justifiable” expenditures.

Last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway might not happen

Despite having spent at least $16 million planning the last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is halting work in response to concerns raised this week by regional leaders.

The expressway, estimated to cost $2.2 billion, would connect Route 51 in Jefferson Hills with Interstate 376 near Monroeville — the last stretch in a decades-long effort to link I-376 to I-68 near Morgantown, W.Va.



Committee concludes PA should restore more than $220 million for highway work

March 24, 2017

The Pennsylvania Legislative Budget & Finance Committee has released the long-awaited report determining the appropriate and justifiable amount of Motor License Fund revenue that can be used to fund State Police operations.

PAWIREFRAMEPOLICEUsing the 2015-16 fiscal year as a benchmark, the report said the appropriate amount that year would have been $532.8 million, not the $755 million that was actually diverted. In the current fiscal year, $802 million was diverted, but Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for next year would reduce that amount by $63 million.

Legislation passed last year mandates that the diverted amount be reduced in each of the next 10 years until it reaches the appropriate level. It is important to note that the Commonwealth has the ability to revise that mandate by enacting new legislation. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 12

March 20, 2017

PDSITELOGO2PennDOT begins two-year, $87.9 million Parkway North project

Traffic disruptions begin Monday for about 53,000 motorists who use inbound Interstate 279/Parkway North as road crews prepare for a two-year, $87.9 million project to upgrade the highway between Camp Horne Road and the North Side.

Pennsylvania Turnpike removing E-ZPass feedback signals

Those traffic lights that tell you whether your E-ZPass was read properly at Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booths are going away. The turnpike commission on Friday started removing the red, yellow, and green feedback signal lights because they are now prohibited by federal guidelines.

PA Debates Proposed Per Resident Fee for Small Towns Without Police Forces

If a measure pushed by Governor Tom Wolf, as well as some state lawmakers becomes law, small towns without dedicated police forces would be charged for the use of Pennsylvania State Police. The chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, State Representative Mike Sturla of Lancaster, said about 80 percent of taxpayers in the Commonwealth pay for local police forces.

Berks could double its resources for bridge work

Berks County may get a lot more bang than expected from its recently enacted $5 vehicle registration fee. PennDOT plans to match the money counties that enacted the fee spend on bridge projects up to $2 million a year, local transportation planners learned Thursday.

Berks expects to generate $1.3 million to $1.9 million annually through the fee, which is tacked onto state charges when a vehicle is registered. So, with the matching aid from the state, the county could double how much bridge work the fee revenue can buy. Read more


Cost for full-time State Police coverage tabbed at $600 million annually

March 16, 2017

STATEPOLICE (002)As the Wolf administration and lawmakers grapple with the State Police funding issue, data are beginning to illuminate the discussion.

First, we know that about half of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities do not have local or regional police coverage, relying instead on the State Police. Another 400-plus municipalities have part-time local police coverage and rely on State Police the rest of the time.

Last week, State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker told a Senate budget panel that it costs $600 million per year for his agency to provide full-time coverage to the nearly 1,300 municipalities that need it. Those municipalities are home to about 2.5 million Pennsylvanians.

Governor Wolf has proposed charging a $25 per resident fee in municipalities that rely strictly on the State Police. That approach would raise $63 million per year, to be restored to the Motor License Fund and used for highway projects instead of State Police operations, reducing the Motor License Fund’s support to $739 million. Read more