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Pandemic causes projects and activities to grind to a halt

March 19, 2020

The worsening coronavirus disease pandemic has led to a number of sudden event postponements and cancellations, and many others are up in the air as we try to get a handle on combatting the spread of the virus.

The House Transportation Committee hearing on various funding measures, scheduled for Monday of this week, will be rescheduled. Part 2 of the hearing, which is scheduled for April, may not happen as planned.

Our PHIA Policy Breakfast, which had been set for Tuesday of this week, was also a casualty, as was an APC legislative update webinar. If there is any bright side, it’s that we’re getting good use out of the telecommunications upgrade APC installed in its offices last year.

Additionally, PennDOT shut down many of its operations and suspended construction projects across the Commonwealth and closed the license and registration centers. We will see in the coming days when those activities will resume. As many of us follow Governor Wolf’s two-week self-quarantine recommendations, we look forward to returning to some semblance of normal as soon as we can.

Until then, we hope everyone stays comfortable and safe.

 

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Ron Geist, former PHIA managing director, passes away at age 76

March 9, 2020

 

PHIA is saddened to announce the passing over the weekend of Ron Geist, former PHIA managing director. In addition to his PHIA duties, Ron served from 1992 to 2017 as APC deputy executive secretary.

In the words of former PHIA president Tom Lawson, Ron “served the industry with passion and kindness that is difficult to duplicate.” He will be missed by his many friends and family, to whom we extend our heartfelt condolences.

A memorial service is being planned for the near future.

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Automated speed enforcement begins

March 9, 2020

Beginning today, speeding through highway work zones could start costing you money. Automated speed enforcement targets those who violate the posted speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour. A first offense will draw only a warning, a second time will cost $75, with subsequent offenses costing $150.

PHIA and the construction industry worked long and hard to advance this initiative. We know it works, because Maryland’s program has reduced work zone speed violations to less than 1 percent of drivers. The rate was 7 percent when the program began several years ago.

“Those who complain about this program contend it’s simply a government money-grab, but the experience in Maryland shows the opposite,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “Fine revenue has actually decreased in Maryland because the driving public has learned that breaking the speed laws in work zones will take money out of their pockets.”

Wagner noted that speed and distracted driving – or both – are the leading causes of work zone crashes.

“Highway workers deserve to go home to their families after their shifts, just like everyone else,” Wagner said. “This law will save lives and prevent serious injuries, not only for construction workers but for motorists as well.”

 

CALENDAR EVENT, Events, Featured

PHIA’s March 17 PHIA Policy Leaders Breakfast Canceled

February 25, 2020

The March 17 PHIA Policy Leaders Breakfast with PennDOT’s George McAuley is canceled due to the advisories and restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 Corona Virus.  We will look to reschedule at some point in the future.  We will refund all payments in full for this event.

We apologize for the inconvenience and if you have any questions, please contact that PHIA Office at:  717-236-6021 or via email at: JWagner@pahighwayinfo.org

 

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Safety, funding measures top 2019 highway issues

December 19, 2019

In our final edition of E-motion for 2019, we reflect on the public policy highlights of this year.

At the top of the list was the enactment of the automated speed enforcement measure. The pilot program began in the fall with a “pre-enforcement testing period.” Beginning next month, motorists who drive through work zones at more than 10 mph over the speed limit will begin receiving citations after a first-offense warning. The initial fine will be $75, increasing to $150 for subsequent violations.

Automated speed enforcement tops the list because, as much as we talk about highway funding, work zone safety is and always has been the construction industry’s highest priority. Data show that Maryland’s program, which has been in place for several years, has reduced excessive speeding to less than 1 percent of drivers after beginning at 7 percent.

There also were positive developments on the funding front. As diversions from the Motor License Fund continue to be rolled back by 4 percent a year, legislation in the Senate would accelerate the rollback, making more money available for highway work. A House Republican task force also recommended accelerating the rollback, so it appears that the idea has a good chance of advancing in the second half of the current legislative session.

Additionally, the House task force recommended expanding public-private partnership opportunities, streamlining permitting processes, changing the way large highway projects are bid out, giving local governments the ability to impose additional fees and creating county infrastructure banks. We expect that those recommendations will be transformed into legislation early next year.

As we bid farewell to 2019, we leave you with best wishes for the holidays and hope you have a prosperous and healthy New Year. We’ll keep you posted as we turn the page to 2020.