PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 8

February 21, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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AG: Rising police demand tied to pension problems

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale drew a link last week between helping struggling municipal pension plans get out of debt and easing demand for state police coverage in additional parts of Pennsylvania.

State Police nab 1,800 drivers for ignoring restrictions during winter storms

Pennsylvania State Police issued citations to more than 800 drivers of commercial vehicles — including tractor-trailers, flatbeds, box trucks and buses — for ignoring or violating emergency road restrictions during severe storms this week.

‘Roadmap’ puts DEP squarely behind greater use of electric vehicles

It may not be the Green New Deal, but a new report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tries to nudge the state toward greater use of electric vehicles.

Pennsylvania commits funding $670 million transportation project for State College connection

A $670 million project to improve the connection on U.S. Route 322 between the top of the Seven Mountains and State College will become a reality, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Rep. Smucker to serve on three transportation infrastructure subcommittees

Smucker will serve on the Hazardous Materials and the Subcommittee on Aviation, the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

 

Paying for police coverage is again an issue

February 14, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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In his annual budget address this week, Gov. Tom Wolf has once again proposed that the Commonwealth charge a fee to Pennsylvanians who rely on State Police coverage in their communities rather than a local or regional police force.

The argument supporting such a fee is that this “free” State Police coverage is subsidized by the roughly three-quarters of Pennsylvanians who also pay for their own local police coverage. Those who opt to disband their local police forces or never had one in the first place generally pay significantly lower local property taxes.

Whether this proposal stands a better chance of adoption this year after failing to gain traction in previous budgets remains to be seen, but few policymakers articulate the reasoning better than state Rep. Mike Sturla of Lancaster, who chairs the House Democratic Policy Committee. To read a Q&A interview featuring Sturla and PennLive reporter Wallace McKelvey, click here.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol 4. No. 7

February 11, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol 4. No. 7
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Change is coming for people who need rides to medical appointments, and LANTA is worried

Transportation authorities are warning the switch could mean a change in service hours, a change in providers and potentially higher costs for clients.

Pittsburgh residents don’t fear driverless vehicles, survey says

Pittsburghers are – by and large – comfortable sharing the road with autonomous vehicles, bucking national trends that show most U.S. drivers distrust driverless technology.

State, local leaders urge Congress to act on infrastructure plan

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti both told members of Congress how they campaigned to raise their constituents’ taxes for infrastructure, and emerged victorious.

Should all Pa. towns pay for police protection? Q&A with Rep. Mike Sturla

For more than a decade, state Rep. Mike Sturla pushed legislation to force municipalities that rely solely on the state police for protection to help pay for those services.

PhilaPort nears completion of deepening project

PhilaPort, the Port of Philadelphia, is nearing completion of the Delaware River Deepening Project. The project will create a 45-foot shipping channel capable of accommodating vessels as large as 14,500 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Municipalities would pay up to $7M for state police under Wolf’s proposed budget

Municipalities now getting free state police coverage would be asked to pay as much as $7 million for it under one component in the governor’s proposed budget.

Some love for the infrastructure we already have

While federal policymakers prepare to debate how they might provide more funding for new or improved infrastructure, state and local governments are beginning to tackle the long-neglected issue of deferred maintenance with money, muscle and spreadsheets.

Transportation Safety Board releases “Most Wanted” list for reducing traffic deaths

The National Transportation Board is working to decrease the number of traffic fatalities across the nation by targeting three key factors — speeding, alcohol and drug-related incidents, and distracted driving.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 6

February 4, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 6
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Archer & Greiner appoints former PA legislator John Taylor as director of public affairs practice

Archer & Greiner is pleased to announce John J. Taylor has been appointed as director of the Pennsylvania practice of Archer Public Affairs, a governmental and external relations affiliate of Archer.

Gov. Wolf names projects to receive Multimodal Transportation Fund grants

Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 50 highway, bridge, transit, aviation, and bike and pedestrian projects in 23 counties were selected for $44.5 million in funding through the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Trump executive order promotes domestic construction materials

President Donald Trump Jan. 31 signed an executive order promoting – and potentially requiring – expanded use of American-made materials (including steel, iron and cement) on federally-financed infrastructure projects.

Road crews will go from plowing snow to patching potholes

“We’re going to see more potholes popping up during this freeze-thaw cycle,” says PennDOT’s Assistant District 11 Executive Angelo Pampena.

Capital investments, infrastructure high on priority list for Pennsylvania municipalities

Capital infrastructure maintenance and improvement is the No. 1 priority for more than 21 percent of Pennsylvania municipal governments, according to the Municipal Management Priorities Survey prepared for the Chrostwaite Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on research and government efficiency.

Wolf wants PA severance tax to pay for massive infrastructure rebuild

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Thursday outlined a $4.5 billion plan to restore the state’s infrastructure, with revenue to come from a proposed natural gas severance tax.

How will driverless cars really change cities? Who knows

It’s normal to have long and passionate debates about the future that technological breakthroughs will bring us. Sometimes the boldest predictions turn out to be right. Other times they miss the mark by quite a bit.

Final contract awarded for $306 million section of Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway

New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. has gotten the $52.3 million contract to do drainage, paving, sign, lighting and traffic signal work, PennDOT reports. Work will begin when the weather breaks.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 5

January 28, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 5
Filed under: News 

Road salt use creates environmental worries

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation still relies on a steady diet of salt to de-ice state roads and highways. But in some other states, including neighboring New Jersey, products like beet juice and cheese brine are being used to keep drivers safe and roads away from salt.

PennDOT Connects program aims to improve transportation planning

PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards announced that project-planning collaboration and outreach with more than 750 municipalities is complete on more than 1,850 projects through the department’s PennDOT Connects transportation planning process.

King of Prussia rail project reaches two milestones

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Board has approved a contract to advance further engineering of the KOP Rail extension of the Norristown High Speed Line.

State troopers issue nearly 1,000 citations for driving during snow storm

Pennsylvania State Police issued nearly 1,000 citations to commercial drivers who were stopped on Pennsylvania highways during this weekend’s storms.

OPINION | The bus system of the future

Indianapolis is rethinking its approach, seeking new efficiencies that will better serve those from disadvantaged communities.

 

Heads-up. Autonomous vehicles are about to get real

January 28, 2019 by · Comments Off on Heads-up. Autonomous vehicles are about to get real
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It appears that the first incarnation of autonomous vehicles could arrive as soon as this spring. An article in Pittsburgh’s The Incline notes that platooning of tractor-trailers, buses and military vehicles could beat all other autonomous applications to the punch.

In October, Pennsylvania passed legislation that would allow up to three of those aforementioned vehicles to connect wirelessly and hit the road, with only one driver controlling the platoon. PennDOT is hashing out processes and protocols to support the practice, including where, when and how platoons will operate.

Platooning vehicles will be safer, save fuel and take up less highway space, according to a Carnegie Mellon University professor/AV expert. And with nationwide concerns about commercial driver shortages, it becomes clear why there is interest in platooning as a solution.

“Having closely followed the development of AV technology, and recognizing the benefits of improved safety and fuel efficiency, many of us at PHIA are supportive and excited to see the platooning efforts advance,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “In some ways, this technology will have the same level of life-changing impacts as computers, digital communication and smart phones.”

To read the entire article, click here.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 4

January 23, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 4
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Pa. Turnpike considers public-private partnership to upgrade five tunnels

Over the next six weeks, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will try to decide whether to rehabilitate its five sets of tunnels one at a time over 10 to 15 years or enter into a public-private partnership with one firm that would do all of the work in five to six years and be responsible for maintenance for about 30 years.

Will there ever be high-speed rail service between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia?

If you’ve ever taken a train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, or vice versa, there are plenty of adjectives you might use to describe the experience. High-speed probably isn’t one of them.

Coming soon to Pa. roads: Autonomous trains of semi trucks

State lawmakers have yet to agree on legislation governing the testing of self-driving vehicles but passed a bill in October that will allow for platooning of up to three automated buses, military vehicles or tractor-trailers on some highways and interstates starting this spring.

PennDOT secretary named to Transportation Research Board committee

Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards was recently named vice chairwoman of the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee, the senior policy body of TRB.

Why this is the year to begin addressing the infrastructure deficit

With signs pointing to a weakening economy, we need to get ready now, and we need to do it right.

 

PennDOT & Turnpike Combined Letting History – updated Jan. 2019

January 17, 2019 by · Comments Off on PennDOT & Turnpike Combined Letting History – updated Jan. 2019
Filed under: Facts & Figures 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PennDOT & Turnpike Combined Letting History Chart (pdf)

 

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 3

January 14, 2019 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 3
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Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project clears major hurdle

A decision by the Federal Highway Administration announced Friday allows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to begin final design on a two-mile stretch of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway in Snyder County.

Traffic deaths on Roosevelt Blvd spiked in 2018. A safety fix may not be in place until the fall.

Roosevelt Boulevard had one of its deadliest years in recent history in 2018.

Bradford County landslide clearing underway

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is working with a contractor to jump-start work to clear a landslide that has closed a portion of Route 414 in Bradford County since early December.

The Keystone State may have found the key to the next wave of transportation electrification

Pennsylvania’s combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among a broad array of stakeholders may show how to move the EV market into its next phase of development.

Widening I-81 in Pennsylvania: Plan shows worth, but dollars needed

Even if the $2.9 billion the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation now estimates it will take to expand about 82 miles of the highway appeared tomorrow, it would be at least 2030 until work begins, said Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

Is chaos ahead for transportation funding in Pa.?

A nasty storm could be brewing for Pennsylvania’s transportation funding regimen, says a scholar at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. Read more

Capital Beltway tabbed for major improvements

January 10, 2019 by · Comments Off on Capital Beltway tabbed for major improvements
Filed under: Featured 

Those who commute on Harrisburg’s Capital Beltway received good news as we rang in the new year, with PennDOT announcing a couple of big-ticket projects involving Interstates 83 and 81 and Route 581.

Plans call for widening I-83 to 12 lanes – six in each direction – between Paxton and Second streets. A new interchange would be built at Cameron Street, and the 13th and Paxton street interchanges would be eliminated.

PennDOT said the goals are to relieve congestion and improve safety.  Officials estimate the cost at $700 million, and the work would be done between 2022 and 2030, although preliminary engineering has already begun.

The I-81 work would turn most of the 89-mile stretch between the Maryland line and I-78 into a six-lane highway. The traffic volume along the I-81 corridor is significantly greater than what it was designed to handle, and it is projected to continue to increase.

“The I-83 project is farther along than the I-81 project,” noted PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner, “and it’s not clear yet where the money for I-81 will come from and when.  PennDOT said it’s hoping for federal funding, but policymakers in Washington still haven’t addressed funding needs.”

 

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