PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 12

March 20, 2017

PDSITELOGO2PennDOT begins two-year, $87.9 million Parkway North project

Traffic disruptions begin Monday for about 53,000 motorists who use inbound Interstate 279/Parkway North as road crews prepare for a two-year, $87.9 million project to upgrade the highway between Camp Horne Road and the North Side.

Pennsylvania Turnpike removing E-ZPass feedback signals

Those traffic lights that tell you whether your E-ZPass was read properly at Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booths are going away. The turnpike commission on Friday started removing the red, yellow, and green feedback signal lights because they are now prohibited by federal guidelines.

PA Debates Proposed Per Resident Fee for Small Towns Without Police Forces

If a measure pushed by Governor Tom Wolf, as well as some state lawmakers becomes law, small towns without dedicated police forces would be charged for the use of Pennsylvania State Police. The chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, State Representative Mike Sturla of Lancaster, said about 80 percent of taxpayers in the Commonwealth pay for local police forces.

Berks could double its resources for bridge work

Berks County may get a lot more bang than expected from its recently enacted $5 vehicle registration fee. PennDOT plans to match the money counties that enacted the fee spend on bridge projects up to $2 million a year, local transportation planners learned Thursday.

Berks expects to generate $1.3 million to $1.9 million annually through the fee, which is tacked onto state charges when a vehicle is registered. So, with the matching aid from the state, the county could double how much bridge work the fee revenue can buy. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 10

March 7, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Turnpike bridge closed by fractured truss on track to reopen in April

Engineers say work to repair a major bridge that links Pennsylvania and New Jersey remains on track for it to reopen in about a month. Officials with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Friday good weather has helped speed work on the Interstate 276 bridge over the Delaware River. They’re optimistic the bridge won’t need to be partially reconstructed or completely replaced.

New interchange in New Stanton designed to ease traffic flow

Jeff McLaughlin doesn’t hesitate to extol what he sees as the positive virtues of the new interchange that opened last week off Interstate 70 into New Stanton.

As manager of the Westmoreland County borough, Mr. McLaughlin is well aware of traffic congestion the old interchange caused for residents and firms like UPS, FedEx and SuperValu that have distribution warehouses there.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s decision to move the interchange 800 feet west, add longer entrance and exit ramps, install roundabouts and upgrade bridges on Center Avenue should have a positive effect, he said.

Report: PennDOT Commits to Spending $100M for I-95 Cap

PennDOT has committed $100 million to the plan to cap I-95 in Center City, Billy Penn is reporting.

In today’s budget address, Mayor Jim Kenney called for $90 million in city funding over six years to cap I-95 in town and create a park between Chestnut and Walnut streets that would allow a greater connection between Center City and the Delaware waterfront.

Lawmakers say restructuring police budget is vital. But how?

Every year, a hefty portion of the budget for the state police comes from a fund that’s supposed go toward roads and bridges.

While the commonwealth has made some moves to fix that incongruous fiscal relationship, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they still need to find a replacement revenue source.

The state police drew more than $800 million of their $1.2 billion budget from the motor license fund this year. That’s almost 70 percent. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 9

February 27, 2017

PDSITELOGO2State police municipal coverage costs $600 million

It costs $600 million a year for state troopers to provide full-time police services in nearly 1,300 municipalities, the state police commissioner said Thursday at a Senate budget hearing. Commissioner Col. Tyree Blocker broke down the per-person — also known as per capita — cost at $234 annually for full-time services to 2.5 million Pennsylvania residents living in those municipalities.

Budget realities make Wolf’s cop tax debate-worthy

Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing a $25 per person tax on municipalities without a police force to raise $63 million in funds for the state police, a plan bound to have its share of critics. It’s entirely understandable that those who lead municipalities that get their police protection for free from state police would resist any move to change that.

Route 219 work motoring along, but funding for completion stalls

The biggest challenge when it comes to expanding the region’s transportation connections is funding.

Allocations from outside sources that helped ensure the completion of Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale have been discontinued by legislation, meaning PennDOT officials must stay within the funding distributed by the state each year.

Johnstown considers redeveloping train station

With the support of PennDOT, a new steering committee has been formed to look at options for redeveloping Johnstown’s Train Station. In January, community stakeholders began working with project consultants to plan for possible futures for the historic station. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 8

February 20, 2017

Proposed state police fee a bargain compared to costs of municipal forces

Valley municipalities relying on Pennsylvania State Police for primary coverage may be forced to pay a new fee for the service, but it’s substantially cheaper than what neighboring municipalities already spend on local police departments.

Small towns lose sleep over state police fee: Can places like Pillow afford crime protection?

Like many rural communities, Pillow relies solely on the state police for protection. Borough officials say troopers seldom patrol here and rarely respond to anything as dramatic as the two recent bank heists. When state troopers do come to Pillow, however, their services are free of charge.

That could soon change.

PennDOT official: State making progress on structurally deficient bridges

A new report calls for more investment on bridge repairs, saying 2106 federal transportation data revealed motorists travel across the nation’s 55,710 structurally compromised bridges 185 million times daily.

Turnpike bridge repair draws national talent

A search for expertise has stretched across the country in the effort to repair the Delaware River Turnpike Bridge.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have hired four construction firms, eight engineering contractors, and two national engineering experts, including the man who first publicly identified welds as a factor that caused a crack in a beam in the bridge, to assist in the repair work. That crack prompted closure of the bridge Jan. 20, and it is expected to remain closed to traffic until at least April. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 7

February 14, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Let’s rally around that one unifying issue: Infrastructure

After a divisive election season, it is heartening that one issue is creating a point of unity among many political quarters: investing in the nation’s infrastructure. In Pennsylvania, the need is to focus on long overdue megaprojects such as the reconstruction and widening of I-95 to the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway and the reconstruction of US 422 in Berks County.

Gov. Wolf’s state trooper fee would free gas taxes for road and bridge repairs

The $25 fee is a starting point for covering state police costs instead of relying on the PennDOT highway fund, Wolf said Wednesday at a stop in Allentown.

Taxpayers in municipalities with police departments shouldn’t pay for police protection for others

Taxpayers statewide fund the state police. If you live in Ephrata Borough, for example, your local taxes are supporting your borough police department. But your tax dollars are also paying for state police coverage for municipalities that have no local police department. So a place like Abbott Township, way up in Potter County, which has no local police force, is paying nothing extra for the state police coverage.

You don’t need a panel of actuaries to figure out that simply isn’t fair.

Police protection costs vary widely across Pennsylvania

About 80 percent of Pennsylvanians pay for local police and state police. The other 20 percent only pay for state police, according to a Tribune-Review analysis.

Funded through taxes, fees and other sources, costs for Pennsylvania State Police protection come to about $97 per year for every resident.

York County would pay $1.5M for troopers under Wolf plan

A sizable portion of southern York County depends on Pennsylvania State Police to respond to 911 calls. That service, used full-time by 21 boroughs and townships, has been free … more or less. The state police are funded by taxpayer money.

But Gov. Tom Wolf, in his 2017-18 budget preview released on Tuesday, has proposed a $25 per-person fee for municipalities that rely on the state troopers. In York County alone, such fees would amount to about $1.5 million.


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