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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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CSVT reaches another milestone

September 18, 2018

The fourth and final bidding on the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway took place last week, and we thought this would be a good time for an update on the project.

The CSVT is a rare new capacity project funded by Act 89 of 2013. The vast majority of construction projects made possible by the funding act are focused on restoring existing bridges and highways.

The paving for the project will begin next year, with completion set for 2022. Completion for the southern section is up in the air due to the need to re-route a section of the thruway to avoid building it over fly ash basins.

Despite the record-setting rainfall this construction season, PennDOT reports that construction of the bridge spanning the Susquehanna has fallen behind only by two to three weeks. The Union County side of the bridge is expected to be completed by the end of October, except for the paving.

A four-lane, 13-mile limited access highway will separate trucks and through traffic from local traffic, reducing congestion, improving safety and accommodating economic growth.

 

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Registration Now Open for 2018 PHIA Annual Transportation Conference & Meeting

August 8, 2018

Registration is now open for the 2018 PHIA Transportation Conference and Annual Meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg.  Click HERE for more information and to register!

 

 

Featured, News

Proposed budget reduces amount diverted from transportation

February 12, 2018

Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year would allocate $769 million to the State Police from the Motor License Fund.

That amount compares with $778 million in the current fiscal year and continues a gradual decrease that began following a study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee last year.  The committee determined that under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the appropriate amount to be taken from the Motor License Fund should be about $533 million.

Under the constitution, money that flows into the Motor License Fund from fuel taxes and license and registration fees must be used for highway purposes, including highway safety.  The committee determined that the State Police allocate about 47 percent of their resources to highway safety.

“We’re happy to see the diverted amount reduced, although we would prefer that it occur more quickly,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  The committee found that reducing the diverted amount to the appropriate level would pay for paving more than 1,000 miles of roads and designing, replacing and maintaining nearly 140 bridges, he noted.

In a related matter, the proposed budget again calls for implementing a $25 per capita fee to municipalities that use the State Police as their main police force. Several legislators have introduced plans that would charge municipalities for state police coverage.  Residents of municipalities who utilize a local police force ultimately pay twice to subsidize a “free” police station for other municipalities.

 

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PHIA’s 2018 wish list

January 11, 2018

Happy New Year to one and all, and we hope you had a terrific holiday season. As we begin a new year, we thought we’d share our 2018 wish list. Here we go:

  • One of PHIA’s most important points of emphasis is public safety, not just for highway workers but for the traveling public. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 85 percent of the fatalities in highway work zones involve drivers and passengers, not highway workers. Because Maryland’s automated speed enforcement program has worked so well, reducing excessive speeding from 7 percent to less than one percent of drivers, we implore Pennsylvania’s policymakers to push for a consensus on the automated speed enforcement measure that has gone back and fourth in the General Assembly. Putting such a program into place before the beginning of the next construction season could save lives.
  • We join our fellow transportation advocates under the banner of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition in supporting a rollback of the money that has been diverted from the Motor License Fund to support State Police operations. The Legislative Budget & Finance Committee says the Commonwealth has been diverting nearly $300 million more than is justified under the State Constitution, depriving Pennsylvanians of the transportation improvements they were promised preceding the passage of Act 89 of 2013. Let’s keep the transportation revenue where it belongs.
  • Along those same lines, there are other dedicated funds, most notably the Public Transportation Trust Fund and the Multimodal Transportation Fund, that are essential for building and maintaining a fully integrated transportation system that includes all modes of transportation. Again, let’s keep the transportation revenue where it belongs.
  • Another important issue is to see that drivers of hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles pay their fair share for the wear and tear they cause on our transportation assets. We can no longer place the responsibility solely on the backs of those who consume gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • Finally, for the longer term, we need to begin looking at alternatives to consumption taxes altogether and create a fee structure based on mileage. Charging drivers based on the fuel they consume does not allocate the maintenance responsibility as fairly as it should, and will become even less fair as we continue to move away from fossil fuels and toward alternatives.

 

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