PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 28

July 8, 2024 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

Pa. ends fiscal year on a high note

Pennsylvania concluded the 2023-24 fiscal year with a robust $45.5 billion in General Fund collections, surpassing estimates by $862.9 million, or 1.9 percent. Revenue Secretary Pat Browne announced these figures, noting that final collections fell within the 2 percent range the Department of Revenue aims for in its forecasts.

The Motor License Fund received $308.9 million in June, outperforming the estimate by $37.1 million. For the fiscal year, collections totaled $3.2 billion, which is $43.1 million, or 1.4 percent, above forecast. This fund includes revenues from gas and diesel taxes, as well as various license fees and fines.

Climate advocates boost EVs as anti-EV ads run in Pa.

The advocacy arm of the Environmental Defense Fund says EVs are getting more affordable and convenient each year.

Some motorists will get a break as the Turnpike changes toll calculations next year

It’s not news that the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase tolls in January because the agency has raised rates each of the past 16 years. But the 5% increase approved by the turnpike commission Tuesday also includes a change in how tolls are calculated, and some motorists will see a reduction in their fees.

New piers for the SS United States identified

The SS United States Conservancy is making progress in its search for a new home for the SS United States. According to an update shared on its social media profiles, the not-for-profit organization has conducted outreach and is currently exploring several locations across the United States.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 27

July 1, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 27
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Turnpike releases Fourth of July advisory

Pa. Turnpike officials predict more than 5 million vehicles will travel the roadway during the 10-day stretch before, during and after July 4. Extra State Police patrols will saturate the highway to ensure safe driving practices. Road construction on the turnpike will be suspended during the 10 days, to give drivers access to as many lanes as possible.

Securing funding for Pa.’s critical bridge improvements

According to the Federal Highway Administration, transportation agencies need $70.9 billion to overcome the current backlog of deficient bridges. This investment would be money well spent, as poor bridge conditions have major implications for traveler safety, mobility and economic activity.

Scranton may finally see the return of a passenger rail line to NYC

It’s been more than 50 years since passenger trains ferried travelers from Scranton to New York City, and many in northeast Pennsylvania had given up hope that a rail line would ever return. But funding from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law may finally bring back passenger trains to run between the Electric City and the Big Apple.


Transportation advocates optimistic about funding

June 28, 2024 by · Comments Off on Transportation advocates optimistic about funding
Filed under: Featured, News 

As the July 1 state fiscal year draws near, transportation advocates remain optimistic about a comprehensive multimodal funding plan that would set the Commonwealth on a course for significant infrastructure improvements over the next several years.

Pennsylvania now has access to an infusion of federal Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act funding. Coupled with the redirection of Motor License Fund resources for transportation purposes instead of State Police subsidies, the Commonwealth is beginning to marshal resources for bridge and highway improvements.

The plan also envisions using bond financing to leverage an additional $1 billion per year for about four years. The bonds would be repaid with increasing revenue from motor vehicle sales, which grows at an average of $60 million a year. The plan would enable PennDOT to increase its construction budget from the current $3 billion per year to about $3.5 billion.

The proceeds would be distributed across various transportation modes, most notably a statewide bridge improvement program, and also increases in the multimodal program, local roads and bridge improvements, projects requiring a local match, the Dirt and Gravel Road Program and aviation.

Kudos to a Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition work group that devised the funding plan and solicited input from the various Coalition transportation partners.

In addition to the elements described above, Governor Shapiro has proposed a $283 million investment and nearly $1.5 billion in new funding over five years for public transportation in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and across the Commonwealth.

For more information, please visit APC’s advocacy page at this link.


2024 Road and Bridge Safety Award Program Open for PA’s Counties

June 26, 2024 by · Comments Off on 2024 Road and Bridge Safety Award Program Open for PA’s Counties
Filed under: News, PHIA Programs & Awards 

Each year the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) team with various state organizations to recognize the best road safety or bridge improvement projects undertaken across the state.  For the 41st straight year, the program is now open for Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.  Eligible projects are those in which most or all safety improvements were completed in 2023 or 2024.  The competition recognizes major, high-cost projects and any improvements that have increased public safety.

Go here for complete information, including the entry brochure. The deadline is July 12, 2024.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 26

June 24, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 26
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NTSB hosting final public meetings on derailment Monday, Tuesday

Nearly 17 months after a Norfolk Southern train caught fire and spilled chemicals in East Palestine, the National Transportation Safety Board is ready to discuss its investigative findings with the public.  NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy will hold public community meetings in East Palestine on Monday, June 24, and Tuesday, June 25, open to village residents and those from surrounding areas, including neighboring communities in Pennsylvania.

State makes progress in fixing bridges, but report warns that additional funding is needed

Pennsylvania has made substantial progress in reducing the number of bridges rated in poor condition over the past 10 years. But unless transportation funding increases in the next few years, the number of poorly rated bridges will begin increasing again by 2029, according to a study released Thursday by TRIP, a national transportation nonprofit.

TRIP issues report on Pa. bridges in poor condition

A national group called TRIP is out with a new report on bridges in the Pittsburgh area and across Pennsylvania that are in need of repair or replacement.

PennDOT releases draft plan to guide transportation improvements

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan was released to the public this week, laying out how the agency plans to spend almost $29 billion in the next few years to build “a safe and reliable transportation network that connects Pennsylvanians to opportunities and services,” according to an agency press release.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 25

June 17, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 25
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Pa. Turnpike says it is making progress on $180 million in uncollected tolls

After years of trying, the Pennsylvania Turnpike appears to be making some progress in its efforts to collect money from drivers who deliberately try to avoid paying tolls.

Open cover on gas tank may have caused fire that led to I-95 collapse in Philly

A year after a deadly truck crash and fire caused a section of I-95 in Philadelphia to collapse, federal authorities are releasing more information about what may have caused the explosion.

Buttigieg praises PA union members at Machinists convention

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke at the annual Pennsylvania State Council of Machinists convention on Wednesday to promote President Biden’s pro-union record.

PA Turnpike plans non-stop driving system-wide by 2027

Pennsylvania Turnpike officials are working on a project that will make it possible to travel the entire toll road and its extensions without stopping or slowing down to pay tolls. Using EZ Pass, license plate readers, and sensors that record whether vehicles are cars or trucks, Open Road Tolling will begin next year along the Turnpike’s Eastern and Northeast Extension.

PennDOT to close driver license, photo centers for Juneteenth holiday

PennDOT will close all driver license and photo centers in observance of the Juneteenth holiday. The centers will close on June 19, Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 24

June 10, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 24
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Pa. residents will need a REAL ID to board an airplane starting May 2025

Pennsylvania residents who want to board an airplane for a domestic flight will soon need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. If their driver’s license is not REAL ID-compliant, they will need another form of approved identification, such as a passport to board their flight or enter a secure federal facility or military base. The REAL ID driver’s license and identification card have a small star in the upper right corner to indicate they meet federal regulations that establish minimum security standards.

PennDOT awards bid for $259M high-speed interchange in Centre County

PennDOT has awarded the construction bid for the long-awaited high-speed interchange between Interstates 80 and 99 in Centre County. Trumbull Corporation of Pittsburgh was the apparent low bidder at $259 million, according to a PennDOT news release on Friday. PennDOT expects to issue notice to proceed in July and work will occur over the next six construction seasons, ending in 2030.

Gov. Shapiro signs bill banning handheld cellphone use while driving

Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law a strict ban on the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The law, which goes into effect next year, will also require the Pennsylvania State Police and other large police departments, to collect and report data on traffic stops, such as a driver’s race, a priority of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

Senate committee votes to allow PennDOT motorcycle inspections year-round

While winter may not be the best time to ride a motorcycle, the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee has agreed that the state should allow motorcycle inspections to be conducted during those colder months.

Pgh. International Airport to receive upgrades from Biden’s infrastructure law

Pittsburgh International Airport is set to receive $20.5 million in funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reconstruct the terminal building and allow passengers to move more freely through it.

Deluzio appointed to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-17th District) has been appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for the remainder of the current session of Congress. Deluzio thanked House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for selecting him to serve on the committee, which had a vacancy following the death of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne in April.

Revenue Department releases May collections

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $311.3 million for the month, $2.0 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 $2.9 billion, which is $6.1 million, or 0.2 percent, above estimate.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg discusses Pa. infrastructure at WGAL

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stopped by WGAL studios Wednesday morning for an interview with WGAL News 8 Today anchors Matt Barcaro and Katelyn Smith. They discussed infrastructure in Pennsylvania, projects here in the Susquehanna Valley, and money being spent.


The I-95 restoration: A Pennsylvania success story

June 4, 2024 by · Comments Off on The I-95 restoration: A Pennsylvania success story
Filed under: Featured, News 

Exactly one day before the beginning of the 2024 Memorial Day weekend, state and national transportation leaders held an event to announce the full restoration of I-95 in northeast Philadelphia, the site of a devastating fuel tanker accident last June.

In announcing the reopening of the eight-lane highway, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll, along with Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, joined other dignitaries praising the workers and collaboration that led to the super-fast-tracked reconstruction of one of the busiest transportation arteries in the northeast United States.

The fiery crash claimed the life of the tanker driver when his rig tipped on Sunday morning, June 11, of last year and exploded beneath an overpass.

The highway was instantly deemed impassable. Secretary Carroll and Governor Shapiro immediately grasped the magnitude of the disaster, knowing that the crash would create traffic nightmares and potentially threaten commerce from Maine to Florida.

President Biden toured the accident site by helicopter and said that “there’s no more important project right now in the country as far as I’m concerned.” He pledged to reimburse Pennsylvania for 100% of the initial cost and 90% for the rest.

Then the designers, engineering team, construction companies and the Philadelphia Building Trades got busy. After initially predicting a months-long closing of the highway, the aforementioned problem-solvers said they might be able to create a temporary solution.

Twelve days later, the road was back in business. Traffic resumed, interstate traffic was shifted back to I-95, and economic consequences were eased.

Now, less than a year later, the permanent repairs are in place. For a look back on the nearly year-long restoration effort, follow this link.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 23

June 4, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 23
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Upgrades made to Pa. statewide travel information service

Upgrades have been made to Pennsylvania’s free, statewide travel information service. PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission announced that 511PA has been upgraded with a new website, mobile app, and phone system.

Funds for clean school buses coming to hundreds of districts, White House says

Twenty-one Pennsylvania school districts will receive $55.7 million in funding from the program.

Work zone speed cameras out in full force

These mobile camera and radar systems mounted on vehicles that are parked in work zones were part of a five-year pilot project that recently became state law, and the numbers prove it has helped make work zones safer.

Shapiro administration invests nearly $10 million to improve 10 Pa. airports

PennDOT has announced a nearly $10 million state investment in projects at 10 public-use airports for facility improvements, infrastructure preservation, and development. Supporting safe, reliable infrastructure while growing the Commonwealth’s economy is a key priority for the Shapiro administration.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 22

May 28, 2024 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 9, No. 22
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I-95 in northeast Philly reopened ahead of Memorial Day

Just in time for the Memorial Day rush, Philly drivers are getting a break. Officials marked the “full restoration” of Interstate 95 in Northeast Philadelphia Thursday, a swift finish to a construction saga that started with a fiery disaster nearly a year ago.

Remembering the I-95 bridge collapse, and all the memes

On Thursday, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll, Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, and other officials held a ceremony to mark the project’s completion.

PennDOT’s move ensures reliability and readiness

Fueling Pennsylvania’s transition towards cleaner, safer, and more affordable transportation, PennDOT has revealed its Electric Vehicle Charger Reliability and Accessibility Accelerator program. This initiative will pivot around enhancing existing electric vehicle charging stations, making them not just operational, but also more reliable.

California ban on gas-powered vehicles will hit PA driveways

What happens in California doesn’t stay in California — and that’s particularly true when it comes to your car. Or truck. Or even train.


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