PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 13

March 28, 2022

Harrisburg’s South Bridge was built to solve traffic problems. Tolls might undo that.

The South Bridge opened in 1960 to ease traffic on Harrisburg streets so they wouldn’t become parking lots. The proposed tolling of this Interstate 83 bridge, some say, could bring back that gridlock.

National study calls for more funding beyond the federal infrastructure bill

A national study has confirmed what Pennsylvania officials have been saying for months: The Biden administration’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan is a nice boost but isn’t nearly enough to address all of the nation’s transportation needs.

Pa. gas tax cut could issue $650M bond to cover shortfall

States are temporarily cutting gas taxes in response to inflation and rising oil prices, and Pennsylvania might follow suit.

PennDOT and Gov. Wolf urging solutions other than cutting state gas tax

Two new bills are promising to lower the cost a bit following suit with other nearby states, but what about the state agencies that rely on this tax?

Some experts want Pa. lawmakers to rethink temporary gas tax cuts

There’s one clear downside with cutting gas taxes in particular and not replacing the money, even if it’s just for a little while: Pennsylvania ends up with less cash to use for road and bridge repairs, and even the state police.

“Fueling Debate” Part I: Breaking down PA’s gas tax

Pennsylvania is expected to generate over $3.5 billion dollars in gas tax revenue by the end of the current fiscal year. But is the revenue going where it should?

“Fueling Debate” Part II: Alternative transportation revenue

Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf established the Transportation Revenue Options Commission to explore alternative transportation revenue options. The commission came up with several options to either supplement or entirely replace the gas tax, but some of those options might hurt your wallet and the state’s economy.

PennDOT moving ahead with various infrastructure projects

PennDOT has a list with dozens of potential projects across the state that can happen because of the $4 billion dollars for highways and $1.6 billion for bridge repair.

Cumberland County, West Shore towns file suit to block PennDOT’s South Bridge tolling plan

Elected officials from six West Shore communities and Cumberland County are trying to erect legal roadblocks to a tolling plan envisioned for the South Bridge carrying Interstate 83 over the Susquehanna River. The municipal coalition has filed suit in Commonwealth Court, seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the plan in its tracks.

The tax holiday is a bait-and-switch as a fiscal crisis looms

Just as inflation reached a 40-year high, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepens the high food and gas price shock to U.S. consumers—to Pennsylvanians. As mid-term elections near, big-spending politicians now scramble to provide the illusion of relief and ward off political disaster.

 

News

Secretary Buttigieg on 60 Minutes

March 28, 2022

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been in the news quite a bit recently, thanks in part to various transportation issues involving or affecting Pennsylvania. The secretary sat down for a 60 Minutes interview recently that served as a general update on where things stand with restoring the U.S. transportation infrastructure. The lead-in of the segment recounted the collapse of Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge earlier this year. If you missed the segment (or want to view it again) you can find it at this link.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 12

March 21, 2022

Lawmakers to push for $500M trust fund to help fix Pennsylvania’s decaying bridges

Two veteran Pennsylvania lawmakers from both parties say they will push for legislation to create a $500 million local bridge trust fund that could offer significant relief to the state’s aging infrastructure and help reduce a backlog of badly deteriorating spans statewide.

Pa. bridge tolling: ‘Haphazard’ plan, foreign contractor draw ire

Funding roads and bridges is getting tricky for Pennsylvania with the decline of gas tax revenue, and a plan to toll bridges across the Commonwealth is drawing heavy criticism from state legislators and the public alike.

PennDOT bridge tolling proposal to undergo federal review process

PennDOT will have to undergo a federal review process before it moves forward with its plan to toll nine bridges, U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson announced in a press release.

New local taxes for public transit may be on the way for some Pa. counties

Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester/Montgomery, introduced HB2366 to grant Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties the ability to levy taxes “​​for transit and transportation systems and transportation infrastructure.”

As PennDOT hurries to rebuild Fern Hollow Bridge, environmentalists worry about waterways below

Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh officials are acting quickly to replace the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge. While that has some concerned about a rushed idea for the bridge’s aesthetic, others are sounding the alarm about what an accelerated project could mean for Fern Hollow and Frick Park below.

 

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 11

March 14, 2022

Update: State police say more than 70 vehicles involved in Cumberland County crash

Police are trying to learn more about what caused a 70-vehicle pileup on Route 581 in Cumberland County over the weekend. The huge crash happened in Lower Allen Township on Saturday afternoon. It shut down Route 581 in both directions for about three hours.

State Rep. Hennessey announces run for 16th term in 26th House Dist.

State Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th Dist., House Transportation Committee chair, has announced his intention to seek reelection to a 16th term in Harrisburg.

More Pittsburgh officials urge PennDOT to slow down on Fern Hollow Bridge replacement

Some officials continue to voice concerns with the proposed design for Pittsburgh’s new Fern Hollow Bridge.

Gov. Wolf supportive of proposed federal gas tax suspension, hesitant on state tax holiday

To blunt the pain at the pump, state lawmakers are proposing temporary state and federal gas tax holidays. Officials disagree, however, on where taxes should be cut and how to make up for lost revenue.

Pa. lawmakers float state gas tax holiday as prices jump

Pennsylvania legislators declared interest in lifting the state’s gas tax, the third-highest in the country, as Congress considers the same move at a national level.

PennDOT selects team for major bridge P3 initiative

PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian announced today that Bridging Pennsylvania Partners was selected to administer the major bridge public-private partnership initiative to repair or replace up to nine bridges across the state. The department and BPP will now enter into a pre-development agreement to finalize the design and packaging of the bridges to be built, financed, and maintained.

Want to save at the pump? Public transportation may be the best option

Currently, the average price for gas across the state is $4.39/gallon, and for an average 12-gallon car, that’s an estimated $52 charge every time you stop at the pump. For some, that number is proving too costly.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 10

March 7, 2022

Online petition opposing toll on I-79 bridge draws thousands of signatures

The battle is continuing over PennDOT plans to toll a bridge portion of I-79 passing over Route 50 in Bridgeville. The organizer of an online petition opposing the plan says the petition is approaching a milestone.

Seaport investment is about much more than the current supply chain crisis

Seaports have aways been conduits for trade and gateways to the world. Yet most people look at modern seaports and see only a collage of multi-colored boxes. In fact, those boxes represent a massive percentage of U.S. economic activity and support millions of jobs.

PennDOT, Pa. township supervisors discuss funding for local road, bridge needs

PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors on Tuesday discussed the bipartisan infrastructure law, as well as local-governments’ road and bridge needs and investment options.

PennDOT expects 9 bridges to be prepared for tolling by August

It appears PennDOT’s plan to toll several bridges in Pennsylvania, including one along I-79 near Bridgeville, will come to fruition despite lawmakers’ attempts to block it.

In his final budget, Wolf drops his State Police fee

In a move that went under the radar for most Pennsylvanians, Gov. Tom Wolf has given up his call for local municipalities to pay a fee for primarily relying on State Police for protection.

Revenue Department releases February collections

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $197.0 million for the month, $24.8 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund – which include the commonly known gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues – total $1.8 billion, which is $36.2 million, or 2%, above estimate.