News, PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 53

December 7, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Pennsylvania lawmakers advance bridge commission, authority reforms
Multiple efforts moving through the Pennsylvania statehouse would reform and provide more legislative oversight of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and Delaware River Port Authority.

The DRJTBC maintains and operates seven toll bridges and 13 free bridges connecting New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The agency is made up of 10 commissioners with five from each state.

Pennsylvania’s P3 Board endorses bridge, transit improvements
Supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, the state’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board recently authorized a project aimed at improving county-owned bridges throughout the commonwealth and bolstering Middletown transit development in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Federal bill includes funds to fix Pennsylvania bridges
The new federal transportation bill, known as the FAST Act, includes nearly $370 million over five years to help counties and municipalities repair or replace bridges.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., pushed for the additional funds for bridges that are not part of the federal highway system. About $73 million a year was authorized for Pennsylvania from 2012 to 2014 and had to be approved annually. Read more

News

PennDOT lets $264 Million in November

November 30, 2015

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $264 million in projects during November, bringing the year-to-date total to just over $2.5 billion. Last year, PennDOT ended the year with $2.6 billion in lettings, the highest since 2009 when the program was boosted by the one-time economic stimulus package. PennDOT exceeded its initial 2014 estimate of $2.2 billion and it was reported earlier that PennDOT’s 2015 anticipated lettings will again be close to $2.6 billion.

PennDOT recently reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) that 2016 lettings are expected to be $2.4 billion.

With the recent enactment of the transportation funding bill there is reason to see this trend continue well past 2015. Act 89, which will implement a $2.3 billion comprehensive transportation funding plan over the next five years, will result in PennDOT exceeding the $2 billion construction lettings mark for years to come.

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

To view the full November 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.

 

News

PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

November 24, 2015

STATEPOLICE (002)PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards held media availability recently to discuss PennDOT’s ongoing projects and needs. One of the more pressing needs she addressed was reliable federal funding.

“It helps us if we have a long-term bill and in the world of the federal government, six years is a long-term bill,” Secretary Richards said. “Of course it helps us if that long-term bill has predictable funding for all six years. It is really hard for us to plan if we don’t know that funding is predictable. That challenge of how much money we have and what needs to be done is something we deal with every day here at PennDOT.”

She also highlighted another issue that PHIA has been concerned about for some time: diverting money from Motor License Fund to help support State Police. The Motor License Fund is constitutionally protected fund for highway use.

“We are pleased that the Motor License Fund issue is on the secretary’s radar, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to find a solution,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Highway patrol is a highway use, but two thirds of the State Police budget is coming from the Motor License Fund, and it certainly does not appear that the agency devotes two thirds of its resources for that purpose.”

 

News

PennDOT lets $207 million in October

November 4, 2015

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $207 million in projects during October, bringing the year-to-date total to just over  $2.2 billion. Last year, PennDOT ended the year with $2.6 billion in lettings, the highest since 2009 when the program was boosted by the one-time economic stimulus package. PennDOT exceeded its initial 2014 estimate of $2.2 billion and it was reported earlier that PennDOT’s 2015 anticipated lettings will again be $2.6 billion.  However, we anticipate that PennDOT will fall short of this projection and finish the year in the $2.4 to $2.5 billion range.

At the end of 2013, PennDOT only bid $1.638 billion in lettings. Act 89 enabled PennDOT to put nearly a $1 billion more projects on the street in 2014 than it was able to do in 2013. Read more

News

Congress approves three-week highway funding extension

November 3, 2015

congress progressLast week, Congress acted to extend highway funding for an additional three weeks beyond the current deadline.

The bill authorizes federal transportation funding through November 20. President Obama has outspokenly opposed short-term funding for highways passed in lieu of long-term funding, but is expected to sign the bill. Members of Congress in both chambers have stated that the short-term funding provides more time to work on a long-term bill without defaulting on projects.

Over the summer, the Senate passed a six-year highway funding bill but only included three years of guaranteed funding. The House is currently working on its own version of a six-year bill that includes $325 billion in funding with three years of funding, but cuts off spending after three years if Congress does not establish a funding formula for the final three years. This measure is expected to see a floor vote in the next few weeks.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and raises $34 billion annually, but the federal government spends $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

“Unpredictable funding from the federal government has plagued the highway community for several years,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Infrastructure improvement projects require consistent and reliable funding, and Congress has failed to provide that. Road improvements will slow if a long-term solution is not reached soon.”