PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 17

April 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Finally automating the PA Turnpike could ease money woes, But what about toll collectors?

The transition to an all-electronic tolling system has been nearly a decade in the making; the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission first commissioned a feasibility study in 2010.

PennDOT expects to begin new $300M program for rural roads, municipal bridges this year

A year ago, Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation included $300 million in the state budget for new programs to pave low-volume rural and commercial roads and fix structurally deficient bridges owned by municipalities. Then Mother Nature stepped in.

Interstate system deteriorating, with no fix in sight

A recent 600-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — commissioned by the U.S. Transportation Department — concluded that federal funding for interstates should be increased from about $25 billion a year to $45 billion to $70 billion a year for the next 20 years just to bring the highways up to current design standards.

Lawmakers are trying to stop privatization of free medical trips for Medicaid recipients 

State lawmakers from rural Pennsylvania are pushing back on a privatization measure slipped into last year’s state budget that would affect transportation for at least 150,000 Medicaid recipients.

Pa Turnpike to seek feedback on possible resumption of mass transit borrowing

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has decided to seek feedback from the bond market as it mulls possible resumption of borrowing for mass transit, borrowing that has been suspended due to a lawsuit over toll hikes.


2019 Road and Bridge Safety Award Program Open for PA’s Boroughs

April 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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 37th straight year, the program is now open for Pennsylvania’s boroughs.  Eligible projects are those in which most or all of the safety improvements were completed in 2018.  The competition recognizes not only major, high-cost projects, but any improvements that have increased public safety.

Go here for complete information including the entry brochure. The deadline is May 3, 2019.


Small businesses feel a bigger pinch from deteriorating infrastructure

April 18, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Transportation funding advocates often support their case with the assertion that a sub-par transportation system is bad for business and the economy. But which sectors of the economy suffer the most?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small business owners are more likely to feel the pain of higher maintenance costs, safety risks and the anxiety of trying to move people, products and materials through increasingly congested regions of the country.

Conversely, small businesses can be the greatest beneficiaries of infrastructure investment, according to Ed Mortimer, the U.S. Chamber’s vice president of transportation infrastructure policy.

Among the U.S. Chamber’s three million members, 96 percent have fewer than 100 employees, and 75 percent have fewer than 10.

“This shows why the highway construction industry and transportation advocacy organizations such as the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition receive such a positive reception when we reach out to local Chambers across the Commonwealth,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.

“Virtually every Chamber we’ve visited over the last several years has strongly supported a reasonable level of transportation funding because they know how important that is to local businesses, most of which are small.”

The U.S. Chamber’s position on transportation can be found here.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 16

April 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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PennDOT project in Northumberland joins thruway in costing more due to unexpected findings

The estimated cost of the Duke Street reconstruction project in Northumberland has jumped from $13.7 million to $15.2 million.

Returning to stickers for Pa. car registrations: ‘A public safety issue’ or an annoying backtrack?

Under Rep. Barry Jozwiak’s plan, annual safety inspections and registration would become a two-step process, resulting in a single, two-purpose sticker to be affixed to license plates, just like the old days. Emissions check stickers would stay as they are.

Pa. lawmakers try to stop switch of paratransit funding to private brokers

State lawmakers Tuesday moved to delay — and eventually kill, they hope — a planned funding change that could severely reduce subsidized rides to doctors’ offices and other medical appointments for the poor and elderly in Pennsylvania.

Next leg of Allegheny Township hiking, biking trail to be completed this summer

Work on the next leg of the Wynn and Clara Tredway Trail might begin by the end of April. The goal is to have the project done by late August.

Small business owners bear brunt of costs from deteriorating infrastructure

From product damage and vehicle maintenance to employee safety, small business owners are dealing with the day-to-day costs and concerns of stalled infrastructure investment. There has been some movement at the state level, with Ohio, Alabama, and Arkansas passing gas tax legislation in 2019 to help fund infrastructure work, but Congress has remained stagnant on any overarching federal infrastructure legislation.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 15

April 11, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 15
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Judge rejects lawsuit over Pennsylvania turnpike toll hikes

A federal judge is dismissing a lawsuit over Pennsylvania Turnpike toll increases that are financing payments to help fund transit agencies.

OOIDA to appeal dismissal of suit challenging legality of PA Turnpike tolls

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will appeal a ruling issued Thursday in a class-action lawsuit regarding tolls on users of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Campaign urges safety in highway work zones

Three organizations came together Tuesday to push for work zone safety as part of National Work Zone Awareness week.

PennDOT accepting unsolicited public-private partnership proposals until April 30

The PennDOT Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3) announced today that it is accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through April 30.

Revised thruway route gets environmental approval

The revised southern Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway route around, rather than over, two ash basins located west of Route 15, has received federal environmental clearance. The new route was found to have no significant environmental impact on the surrounding residences, farmland, and wetlands, according to a recently released Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

PennDOT wants to know what you think of its winter work

Through May 7, people can grade PennDOT on their winter response in an online survey.

Congestion pricing floated as fix for Pa. transit funding crisis

The news that New York will become the first U.S. city to impose a fee on vehicles entering Manhattan has put congestion pricing at the center of a statewide conversation about how to fill Pennsylvania’s looming $450 million-a-year transit funding hole.

Fixing US bridges will take 80 years if current rate of progress continues: report

A new report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association said it will take 80 years to fix structurally deficient bridges if repairs continue at their current pace.

Fees on Uber trips and hybrid vehicles: Where the state might look to pay for public transportation

Charging a dollar fee per trip to Uber users, hitting hybrid and electric car owners with a new annual fee, and raising the state’s 3.07 percent personal income tax to 3.17 percent are among the ideas that a group of southeastern Pennsylvania leaders have pulled together to address the state’s transportation funding crisis.


Southeast Partnership offers menu of funding solutions for impending ‘cliff’

April 9, 2019 by · Comments Off on Southeast Partnership offers menu of funding solutions for impending ‘cliff’
Filed under: Featured, News 

The Southeast Partnership for Mobility, which consists of SEPTA, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PennDOT, joined a growing number of entities this week in sounding an alarm over a rapidly approaching transportation funding “fiscal cliff.”

The partnership produced a report that focused on transportation needs in the southeast region. The group identified a variety of funding mechanisms that policymakers might consider to replace a $450 million annual subsidy that public transportation agencies receive from the Turnpike. That subsidy drops to $50 million in 2022, but it has already been halted by a lawsuit filed by independent truckers and a motorist association.

The subsidy arrangement, which began in 2007 after plans to toll I-80 failed, has caused the Turnpike’s debt to approach $12 billion. Turnpike tolls have increased annually for 11 years and will continue to increase for the next 30 years.

“SEPTA and other public transportation agencies are facing cuts in projects and services that could begin to affect the public as soon as this summer,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “While it’s good to get the conversation started, there’s not a lot of time to talk before the public will start feeling the pain.”

To view the menu of funding ideas, go to



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 14

April 2, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 14
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How high will Pa. Turnpike fares go? (And other numbers you should know)

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is increasingly becoming known for high fares and higher debt loads, thanks in no small part to policy decisions made more than a decade ago to ask the toll road to help pay for other transportation systems around the state.

Obstacles fail to derail construction of thruway

The Susquehanna Valley Thruway project has been re-estimated to cost $865 million, according to PennDOT officials, who also provided an update on the northern section construction to Sun-Gazette editorial staff.

Too much to ignore — British Airways takes a chance on a resurgent Pittsburgh

The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner set to launch the new service to London on Tuesday will find a Pittsburgh airport stripped of its hub, dependent largely on local traffic, and one that accommodates about half as many travelers as two decades ago. So what brought British Airways back? Pittsburgh itself.

State awards $55 million in transportation funds to 106 projects

In all, $54.7 million, which is approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, will go toward 106 new infrastructure projects in 40 counties.

Geotechnical engineers at Philadelphia convention check out Hyperloop passenger pods

The chairman of a Hyperloop company already developing transportation projects overseas was the keynote speaker at a conference of geotechnical engineers at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

DCNR looks to expand River Walk

Looking for state funding, local county and organizational leaders met with a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources official at Susquehanna State Park, Tuesday, to hear how new legislation could benefit the Susquehanna River Walk Extension project.

PennDOT to increase speed limit on I-99 in Centre County

PennDOT plans to increase the speed limit from 55 to 65 miles per hour between the Gray’s Woods exit at mile marker 68 to the end of the expressway at mile marker 84 in Bellefonte, near the Interstate 80 interchange.

Co-sponsor expects slow going for scooter bill in Pennsylvania House

The scooters don’t move too fast and apparently, neither will the bill that would OK their use.

These are the most dangerous states for pedestrians

As much as you might take a deep breath crossing Broad Street in Philly or Grant Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a pedestrian paradise compared to the Sun Belt.


Consider the problem identified

March 28, 2019 by · Comments Off on Consider the problem identified
Filed under: News 

The chairpersons of the state House and Senate Transportation Committees, accompanied by members of the American Council of Engineering Companies of PA, became the latest entities to weigh in on the Commonwealth’s impending transportation funding crises last week.

In a Capitol Rotunda news conference, Republican Sen. Kim Ward, who chairs the Senate committee, said it is imperative that the state have a plan ready when the annual $450 million transfer from the Turnpike to PennDOT falls to only $50 million in three years. She said she has convened a legislative working group to evaluate options.

Of more immediate concern is that a lawsuit by independent truckers is already holding up those payments. If the truckers prevail, the payments will stop immediately.

Then, of course, there is the issue of diverting revenue from the constitutionally protected Motor License Fund. The fuel tax and license and registration fees that go into that fund are supposed to be restricted for highway use, but in recent years have funded nearly three-quarters of State Police operations.

Meanwhile, municipalities continue to abandon their local police forces and are relying on State Police instead. The municipalities save money, but such shifting puts a greater burden on the State Police budget.

News conference participants noted that failing to address these issues will have a negative effect on bridge and highway maintenance and construction, public transportation services and all other modes of transportation as well.

“The first steps in addressing problems are to identify them and sound the alarms,” said PHIA Managing Director Wagner. “It appears those steps are complete. Now it’s time to find solutions and implement them.”


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 13

March 25, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 13
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Funding questions raise worry at Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority

The region’s public busing service faces an uncertain funding future from the state and federal governments as three sources of money are at risk.

Commercial travel bans: “trucking community very frustrated”

Travel bans mean a loss for drivers and for trucking companies working on small profit margins. Time-sensitive deliveries like milk and oil are put on hold, and sometimes those drivers are forced to secondary roadways.

PennDOT announces 2019 construction plan for District 11

PennDOT has released its 2019 construction plan for District 11, which includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence Counties. Crews will work on approximately 129 projects costing an estimated $310 million. Seventy-four of them will be new, while the remainder will be projects carried over from 2018.

Harrisburg seeks to shrink PennDOT’s massive 12-lane proposal for I-83

Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced Wednesday during a news conference for the city’s Vision Zero action plan that city officials planned to hire an engineering firm to analyze PennDOT’s data and come up with possible alternative designs.

Pa. faces transportation headaches and the cures are likely to cost us more

The four chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees gathered with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania for a news conference on Wednesday to issue a call for action to address the intertwined problems confronting the state’s transportation network.

Key Pennsylvania lawmaker optimistic about turnpike lawsuit

Suburban Republican Tim Hennessy, chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, says there have been discussions about what might happen if the Commonwealth loses, but declines to discuss them publicly.

What happened to those feasibility studies for additional passenger rail in Pennsylvania?

A study on adding more service from Pittsburgh to Altoona is allegedly in process, but that extra service’s potential future funding is currently in dire straits. And another study looking at adding service from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg appears to have been shelved entirely.

PhilaPort announces addition to leadership team

PhilaPort announced that Colette Pete, Esquire, has agreed to join PhilaPort as its chief counsel effective March 18th.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 12

March 19, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 12
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Philadelphia lawmaker’s bill authorizes speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard

Councilwoman Cherelle Parker introduced a bill Thursday that would authorize the installation of speed cameras along Roosevelt Boulevard. The cameras would be placed between 9th Street and the Philadelphia County line.

‘Hyperloop’ study: Could packages zip across Pennsylvania in minutes? Maybe

Packages hurtling from one end of the state to the other in under a half hour? Pennsylvania transportation officials think it’s less futuristic than it sounds, and they have committed $2 million to study the cost and impact of building a “hyperloop” across the state.

PennDOT announces liquid fuels distribution to municipalities

The March 1 distribution marked a $11.7 million, or 2.4 percent, increase over the $489 million distributed in 2018. Act 89 of 2013 made more funding available for locally owned roadways. Before the law, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.

Regional rail service returning to Coatesville

SEPTA said last week that regional rail service will be returning to Coatesville. The proposed new rail line would extend from the current terminal in Thorndale to a new station in Coatesville.

Why Pennsylvania transportation funding could be in deep trouble

In a doomsday scenario, Pennsylvania could lose $18.5 billion in transportation funding over the next 12 years. That’s according to a state Department of Transportation advisory committee, which recently released a report on risks facing the commonwealth’s highway, bridge, and transit financials from the present until 2030.

York County company testing automated flagging for work zones

D.E. Gemmill Inc is now using automated flagging devices connected through a tablet with real-time video, providing an alternative to placing flaggers in harm’s way. According to company president David Gemmill, the new system will remove flaggers from the traffic flow, creating a safer work environment.


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