House and Senate Transportation Committees are set

January 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, News 

As a new session of the General Assembly begins, both legislative houses have announced committee assignments. Those of us with a major interest in transportation are certain to have important measures launched and advanced in the House and Senate Transportation Committees.

There are a few new faces, most notably in the Senate, where Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., a Johnstown-area Republican, takes the reins as majority chair. Pottstown Republican Tim Hennessey remains as majority chair in the House. Sen. John Sabatina, a Philadelphia Democrat, and Rep. Mike Carroll, a Hughestown Democrat, remain as minority chairs in the Senate and House, respectively.

Langerholc replaces Sen. Kim Ward, who advanced to Senate majority leader. She was a strong supporter of several transportation initiatives, and PHIA and the construction industry wish her well.

It appears that Langerholc, an attorney, is an excellent choice to succeed Ward. According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, he has been “a vocal advocate” for upgrading Route 219 between Johnstown and Maryland, as well as adding a second daily Amtrak passenger route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

“We look forward to working with Senator Langerholc and the other committee leaders and members to find ways to address the funding needs of our transportation system,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “The needs are great, and the stakes are high, but both committees have capable, supportive members.”

Follow this link to read the Trib-Dem article on Langerholc’s appointment.

 

PennDOT & Turnpike Combined Letting History – updated Jan. 2021

January 12, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Facts & Figures 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PennDOT & Turnpike Combined Letting History Chart (pdf)

 

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 2

January 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

U.S. 219 improvements to benefit generations

With all the bad news a pandemic has brought in 2020, I applaud a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to fund $6 million for preliminary engineering work on Pennsylvania’s portion of U.S. 219 — the final leg of a highway system to connect Southwestern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and West Virginia via a modern, four-lane thoroughfare.

Transportation Secretary Chao resigns over ‘traumatic’ Capitol attack

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said Thursday she was resigning, making her the first Cabinet secretary to step down amid a wave of resignations from the Trump administration after the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Buses running on state subsidies, federal money waiting

Despite COVID-19’s role as the culprit for dropping ridership by half at River Valley Transit bus service, the city has not had to dip into a $7.2 million Federal Transit Administration relief package — yet, city officials said.

New state law will improve access to ID cards and driver’s licenses

Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed Act 131 of 2020 into law, which will help homeless Pennsylvanians obtain ID cards, help residents with visual impairments earn driver’s licenses and update commercial driver’s license requirements.

Amtrak Keystone Service trimmed as 4 of 5 passengers stop riding

Beginning Jan. 4, more than a dozen Keystone Service trains will stop running on weekdays between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, as demand has dropped in the coronavirus pandemic to one-fifth of pre-pandemic levels.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 1

January 4, 2021 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 1
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Pa. extends expiration on CDLs and commercial learner’s permits

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has extended expiration dates for commercial driver licenses. Expiration dates on commercial learner’s permits are extended, too.

Reminder: PA Turnpike tolls increase

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reminds drivers that toll increases announced earlier this year took effect Sunday Jan. 3 just after midnight.

Montco is betting on new highway extension to put Norristown on the map

After 20 years and $90 million, Montgomery County has completed a highway extension project officials hope will bring new economic opportunities to Norristown.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 51

December 28, 2020 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 51
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

Transportation funding would benefit region

One need not like projected President-elect Joe Biden or the incoming chief executive’s choice for U.S. transportation secretary to recognize a possible major opportunity for Pennsylvania, including this part of the commonwealth.

Financially stressed PennDOT should get $410M from new bill

Pennsylvania will benefit from a new target of funding in the federal stimulus package approved Dec. 21: state departments of transportation, where financially beleaguered PennDOT is expected to receive $410.1 million.

Cameras at Pa. construction sites nab nearly 192,000 violators in eight months

The 17 white Jeep Grand Cherokees are parked along road construction sites on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and state roads from Route 476 in Lehigh County to Route 28 in Allegheny County.

Pa. holds off joining regional program to cap emissions from cars, trucks

The Transportation & Climate Initiative aims to reduce emissions but also carried the likelihood of higher gas prices at the pump in participating states. Other governors also opted against signing onto the initiative. But Wolf’s move isn’t necessarily a permanent rejection of the concept.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 50

December 21, 2020 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 50
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

Biden to pick former rival Pete Buttigieg as transportation chief

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pick former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg to head the transportation department, according to three people familiar with the plans.

After 5 years, the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway bridge is ‘basically’ completed

It has taken five years but the nearly mile-long Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River is “basically” completed.

Sens. Muth, Williams to introduce legislation to provide funding for transportation projects

State Sens. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) and Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny) announced plans to introduce legislation that would authorize PennDOT to borrow funding to continue ongoing large construction projects statewide.

Address transportation funding

Are we eager for the prospect of being hit with tolls all over the state? No. But the very proposal should spur serious conversations about finding better ways of addressing transportation funding, once and for all. There’s no more time to wait.

 

Buttigieg tapped to be new transportation secretary

December 18, 2020 by · Comments Off on Buttigieg tapped to be new transportation secretary
Filed under: Featured 

Nearly one year ago, then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled his $1 trillion infrastructure plan and began to weave it into his campaign. Having been selected this week by President-elect Joe Biden to be U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, we may see many elements of that plan come to fruition in coming years.

Infrastructure and environmental quality are a high priority for Biden. During the campaign, he spoke of modernizing highways and roads and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It appears that Biden and Buttigieg have similar goals. Buttigieg’s plan included:

  • Infusion of $165 billion for the Highway Trust Fund to make it solvent through 2029, through a user-fee system such as a vehicle-miles traveled fee, replacing the gas tax.
  • Creating 6 million “well-paying” jobs.
  • Updating and fixing at least half of all roads and bridges in poor conditions by 2030.
  • Advancing autonomous vehicle technology.
  • Expanding the market for electric vehicles, an initiative the vehicle manufacturers are beginning to embrace globally.

Despite bipartisan support for improving transportation infrastructure generally, policy differences remain. Finding the resources to fund these initiatives will not be easy either, and Buttigieg awaits Senate confirmation.

Still, given the stated importance of infrastructure by members of the new administration, transportation advocates have reason for optimism as we approach 2021. A more detailed recap of Buttigieg’s plan can be found here.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 49

December 14, 2020 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 49
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

Pa. road deaths kept climbing even as millions stayed home

Despite a dramatic decrease in driving brought on by the pandemic this year, more people are dying on Pennsylvania roads than in 2019. And a Morning Call review of road fatalities in the Lehigh Valley suggests the trend may have been worse here.

PennDOT issues one millionth REAL ID

PennDOT on Friday announced it has issued its one millionth REAL ID product. The milestone is considered a major step toward providing REAL ID-compliant products to customers.

Report forecasts modest declines in 2021 construction market

The U.S. transportation construction market is expected to shrink 5.5% next year, driven primarily by the severe economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the annual forecast released Dec. 10 by the Washington, D.C.-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Funds earmarked for Pa.’s U.S. 219 roadway expansion study

Pennsylvania state officials said the Appalachian Program Development has earmarked $6 million in federal funding to aid the resumption of environmental studies regarding the U.S. 219 expansion.

Governor announces 13 municipalities will receive enforcement funds

Governor Tom Wolf announced that PennDOT will distribute $8.2 million in Automated Red Light Enforcement funding to 13 municipalities statewide to fund 16 safety projects.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 48

December 7, 2020 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 48
Filed under: PHIA NEWS DIGEST 

Pa. lawmakers must once again face transportation funding woes this winter

Hundreds of road and bridge projects across Pennsylvania are temporarily funded until early winter on short-term debt as lawmakers negotiate a fix for a pandemic-linked budget gap that shows the holes in Pennsylvania’s transportation funding.

PennDOT extends expiration dates on commercial driver licenses, commercial learner’s permits

PennDOT announced Wednesday that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Electric-powered trucks rule, vehicle fee passes Pa. Senate

A bill continuing to move through the Pennsylvania General Assembly would add the Pennsylvania to the list of states adopting federal weight exemption for electric-powered trucks. A separate provision would tap certain alternative fuel vehicle owners for more money.

Work on Pa.’s road, bridge projects given the green light to continue for now

A last-minute agreement between Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders has averted the need for hundreds of road and bridge projects across the commonwealth to shut down on Tuesday.

 

PA treasurer pledges loans to avert highway project shutdowns – But future projects are stalled

December 4, 2020 by · Comments Off on PA treasurer pledges loans to avert highway project shutdowns – But future projects are stalled
Filed under: Featured, News 

The highway construction industry averted the shutdown of nearly 400 construction projects across Pennsylvania this week as Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella pledged to shore up the Motor License Fund through the end of the fiscal year.

The shutdown, which would have begun on Tuesday, threatened to cause thousands of layoffs as we enter the holiday season. Torsella’s action followed discussions among House and Senate leadership and the Governor’s Budget Office.

“It would have been another significant setback for the construction industry, which already had been shut down for many weeks earlier this year because of the coronavirus,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  “However, PennDOT has stopped bidding any future work, so this is not back to business as usual. Industry layoffs are still looming.”

Torsella’s announcement noted that his action “won’t solve the underlying issues that led to this crisis. But they will give PennDOT and the General Assembly time to get to work on resolving those issues early in 2021, and keep Pennsylvanians working in the meantime.”

Hopefully, this will translate to addressing long-term transportation funding needs, not just plugging an immediate hole.

 

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