PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 16

April 17, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Decision expected in June on fate of Mon-Fayette Expressway’s last leg

Over the past 40 years, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has spent nearly $120 million on design, redesign, environmental impact statements and other elements for the proposed last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

That 14-mile segment from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville, which has a revised completion estimate of $2 billion, was put on hold last month by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The planning commission will decide in June whether the project continues or gets placed back on the shelf, where the former turnpike commission chairman predicted last year it would die.

Wolf administration announces traffic deaths dropped to record low in 2016

PennDOT today announced that traffic deaths in Pennsylvania reached a record low in 2016 with 1,188 fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways last year, a new low since record keeping began in 1928.

While the number of highway deaths dropped in many types of crashes, there were significant decreases noted in run-off the road, hit fixed object, and drinking driver fatalities. Fatalities in run-off the road crashes dropped from 580 in 2015 to 518. Hit fixed object fatalities also decreased from 459 in 2015 to 401 last year. Deaths attributed to drinking-driver-related crashes declined to 263, down from 306 in 2015.

Widening I-81 far off

For local drivers who deal daily with heavy Interstate 81 traffic, major help isn’t on the way any time soon.

The long-discussed widening of I-81 to three lanes for more than 30 miles north and south between the Clarks Summit and Nanticoke interchanges remains dependent on funding that so far doesn’t exist, experts made clear at a Focus 81 meeting Wednesday. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 14

April 3, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Wolf administration, others promote Work Zone Safety Awareness

The Wolf Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Association of Pennsylvania Constructors today gathered to kick off Work Zone Safety Awareness Week – which runs through April 7 and honors lives lost – by hosting PennDOT’s statewide Workers’ Memorial in Harrisburg.

How Harrisburg (probably illegally) mishandles road and bridge funds

The legislature and governors, Republican and Democrat, Tom Ridge to Tom Wolf, annually siphon off funds allocated to fix roads and bridges, and use the money for something else — to bolster budgets of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Gov. Tom Wolf nominates John Wozniak to Turnpike Commission

Governor Tom Wolf announced today the nomination of former state Senator John Wozniak to serve on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Lawmaker proposes tax credit for E-ZPass customers

Bucks County Democratic State Rep. Perry Warren is proposing a bill to ease the financial burden that commuters continue to face with rising tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Warren says his legislation would provide a tax credit “of up to 50 percent on up to $1,000, so that would be a maximum credit of $500 on commuter tolls paid by E-ZPass on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Delaware Joint Toll Bridge Commission bridges, the Burlington County Bridge Commission bridges, and the Delaware River Port Authority Pennsylvania/New Jersey bridges.

Street sensors and cameras in Pennsylvania: Urban asset or privacy concern?

Have you ever been driving down the highway and suddenly getting the feeling that you’re being … watched? That’s how I felt last week when I drove from State College, where I live, to Harrisburg to meet with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Facing possible state police service fee, Pa. municipalities consider options

As the state government considers whether or not to begin charging municipalities a service fee for relying on the Pennsylvania State Police, those municipalities are now facing a series of tough questions of what to do moving forward.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 13

March 27, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Uber suspends self-driving car program after crash in Arizona

Uber Technologies Inc. suspended its pilot program for driverless cars on Saturday after a vehicle equipped with the nascent technology crashed on an Arizona roadway.

The accident caused no serious injuries, Uber said. Even so, the company said it was grounding driverless cars involved in a pilot program in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco pending the outcome of investigation into the crash on Friday evening in Tempe.

PennDOT opens bid for Route 15 bypass interchange work

Bids have been opened for the third and next to last contract for the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project.

New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc. of New Enterprise submitted the low bid of $37.2 million to build the Route 15 interchange near Winfield, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The project includes 1.5 million cubic yards of earthwork, four bridges, reconstruction of nearly a mile of Route 15 and a temporary bridge over that highway to accommodate earth-moving operations.

Report: Pennsylvania State Police ‘overfunded’ by $222M last year

Pennsylvania State Police received hundreds of millions of dollars last fiscal year from the Motor License Fund that it shouldn’t have, according to a new legislative report.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee’s report, released this week, determined the $755 million that state police received in 2015-16 from the Motor License Fund to cover highway safety expenses was $222.2 million too much, based on the committee’s calculation of “appropriate and justifiable” expenditures.

Last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway might not happen

Despite having spent at least $16 million planning the last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is halting work in response to concerns raised this week by regional leaders.

The expressway, estimated to cost $2.2 billion, would connect Route 51 in Jefferson Hills with Interstate 376 near Monroeville — the last stretch in a decades-long effort to link I-376 to I-68 near Morgantown, W.Va.



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

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