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Wolf administration begins search for public transit solution

December 4, 2018

Faced with the expiration of a $400 million subsidy from the Turnpike for public transportation, the Wolf administration is beginning to set the stage for replacing that revenue.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards, at the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Fall Conference last month, outlined the Commonwealth’s transportation funding needs, asserting that the $3.5 billion annual funding gap calculated in 2010 will have more than doubled by 2020 unless policymakers act. She said public transportation funding is the Commonwealth’s most pressing transportation need.

Then, last week, Governor Wolf said he supports changing the transportation funding method to relieve the burden on the Turnpike.

The combination of two legislative measures – one in 2007 and the other in 2013 – provided for a $450 million subsidy to public transportation and resulted in toll increases every year. The Turnpike has greatly increased its debt.

“I think there’s bipartisan support for actually taking a look at that, because I think we all recognize that’s unsustainable,” the governor said. “People using the turnpike are paying too much. The turnpike really is driving business away.”

Under the funding arrangement, $400 million of the subsidy will disappear by 2023 at the latest.  A lawsuit filed by an independent truckers’ organization could hasten the subsidy’s demise.

“Nobody has come up with a specific solution yet, and it won’t be easy,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “It’s encouraging to see the administration launch the process.”

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PennDOT’s November Lettings Top $150 Million

November 30, 2018

PennDOT continued its 2018 construction letting season by issuing over $150.4 million in projects during the month of November, bringing the year-to-date total to just over $2.3 billion according to numbers compiled by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC).  PennDOT finished 2017 with just over $2.578 billion in project lettings.  PennDOT forecasted the 2017 letting program to be $2.4 billion and they anticipate the same for 2018.

As in year’s past, PHIA will continue to track contract lettings on a monthly basis.

To view the full November’s letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

November Letting Report* (PDF)

*The report lists the total contracts awarded at each letting date, a comparison to the same period in the previous calendar year, and letting adjustments made since the previous month. PHIA staff will track PennDOT lettings throughout the year and provide monthly update.

 

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The human side of work zone safety

October 29, 2018

As you probably know, Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law an automated speed enforcement measure that we believe will help protect highway construction workers. While the bill passed by wide margins in both chambers of the General Assembly, it took sustained efforts by advocates over parts of two legislative sessions to complete the process.

A large measure of credit goes to those who took the time and made the effort to apprise their legislators of the importance of the bill. We also want to recognize APC members Stacy and Jay Chatley, of Established Traffic Control, whose tragedy 11 years ago helped to frame the human side of the issue.

On Nov. 13, 2007, Jay Chatley was setting up a construction zone on Route 80 in Warren County. He was walking on the shoulder when a speeding driver veered out of control, starting a chain reaction that caused a mobile traffic sign to strike him. He was rushed to a hospital with severe head injuries. Although he survived the crash, he suffered permanent injuries that require around-the-clock care.

In April, Stacy and Jay came to Harrisburg to tell their story in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week. APC produced a video of the news conference and distributed it to legislators and the public.  While there were many factors that led to passage of the automated speed enforcement act, Stacy and Jay’s willingness to share their story deserves special recognition.

 

Featured

Rafferty named PHIA Advocate of the Year; Senate approves automated speed enforcement

October 4, 2018

PHIA has had an eventful couple of weeks, beginning with our annual transportation conference last week and capped by the state Senate’s 47-1 concurrence vote on the long-awaited automated speed enforcement bill on Tuesday.

Due to scheduling considerations, the highlight of the transportation conference occurred early in the day when state Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) was named PHIA Advocate of the Year. The longtime Senate Transportation Committee chair has been a strong and consistent advocate for many transportation issues, not the least of which was his role in introducing and pushing for passage of Act 89 of 2013, the measure that has increased Pennsylvania’s transportation funding by $2.3 billion per year.

The award, PHIA’s highest honor, was created in 1982. The bar for receiving it is high, however, as it has been awarded just 25 times in 36 years. Senator Rafferty joins an impressive list of advocates, which can be viewed here.

As the number of legislative session days was winding down, the Senate stepped up once again, concurring with House revisions to the Senate’s original automated speed enforcement bill, which had been introduced by Sen. David Argall.  The bill now goes to Governor Wolf for final approval, and he has expressed his support for the measure.

After one warning, the legislation provides for $75 to $150 fines to be levied to owners of vehicles that exceed the posted speed limit by 11 miles per hour or more in active work zones. A similar measure in Maryland has resulted in a significant decrease in excessive speeding in work zones, now at a rate of less than 1 percent.

The measure, a five-year pilot, was promoted as a highway worker safety issue. Pennsylvania’s speed cameras could begin to be put in use 120 days after enactment.

 

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Rafferty named PHIA Advocate of the Year

October 4, 2018

Last week, PHIA presented the Honorable John C. Rafferty (R-Montgomery) with the Transportation Advocate of the Year Award.  Rafferty received the award during PHIA’s annual meeting which was held last week.

The longtime Senate Transportation Committee chair has been a strong and consistent advocate for many transportation issues, not the least of which was his role in introducing and pushing for passage of Act 89 of 2013, the measure that has increased Pennsylvania’s transportation funding by $2.3 billion per year.

The award, PHIA’s highest honor, was created in 1982. The bar for receiving it is high, however, as it has been awarded just 25 times in 36 years. Senator Rafferty joins an impressive list of advocates, which can be viewed here.

“It is an honor to present Senator Rafferty with this award today,” said PHIA president Jamie Van Buren during the meeting. “The Chairman has been a tireless and tenacious advocate for the transportation industry and has never wavered when it comes to understanding that a vibrant economy cannot occur without a well funded and modern transportation system.”