‘Free’ police coverage has a high price tag

May 5, 2016

In the last few weeks, editorials and op-ed articles have appeared in newspapers around the state in reaction to the Associated Press story about “free” state police coverage.

pspThe AP noted that nearly half of Pennsylvania’s municipalities rely on the State Police for all of their police protection, and others for at least some coverage. Municipalities are able take advantage of this coverage at no additional cost.

This has increased the cost of operation for the State Police, without any additional revenue to pay for it. Residents of communities that have local police forces or participate in regional police coverage pay twice – for their local coverage, and for State Police coverage in municipalities that rely on State Police.

Gerald Cross, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League Central Division, commented about this problem with an op-ed article published in several newspapers. You can read the entire article here.

“Mandating that all 2,561 municipalities have their own police departments is unrealistic. One alternative is to require payment for state police services,” Cross wrote. “A more comprehensive and long-term, albeit more complicated, option is to create a mechanism for local government tax-base sharing to deliver all types of critical services more effectively on a regional level. One thing is clear: A wide-ranging discussion of how local governments in Pennsylvania provide services is long overdue.” Read more


Pennsylvania Records Second Lowest Year of Traffic Deaths in 2015

April 20, 2016

Grunge state of Pennsylvania flag mapPennsylvania saw 1,200 traffic fatalities on its roads in 2015, the second lowest rate of any year since 1928.  The lowest rate of traffic fatalities was set in 2014, with 1,195 on Pennsylvanian roads and highways.

PennDOT maintains statistics on the types of crashes, and 2015 also saw significant decreases in traffic fatalities involving older drivers, aggressive drives and accidents at intersections. Unfortunately, there were increases in other types of accidents, including single-vehicles running off the road, and fixed object crashes.

Overall, the two-year streak of low traffic fatalities comes after PennDOT invested nearly $50 million for safety improvements in the last five years. These efforts have taken shape in the form of rumble strips, improved signage, pavement markings and updated road delineators. Read more


Turnpike speed limits to increase to 70 mph

April 6, 2016

70mph2-1Following an 18-month pilot project, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has voted to increase the speed limit on most of the toll road to 70 miles per hour.

The decision will become effective when new speed limit signs are installed.

The pilot project, launched in 2014, involved a 100-mile stretch of the Turnpike from Morgantown to Blue Mountain. The study determined that there was little or no change in the average speed or in collision rates. The 55 mph speed limit in urban areas will remain, and lower speed limits will be posted in work zones as well.

PennDOT is considering raising the speed limit on other highways, including I-80 and I-380. Portions of those highways were part of another pilot program testing a 70 mph limit.

“Our first priority at PHIA is motorist, passenger, and highway worker safety,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We are encouraged that the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT believe the increase will allow everyone to continue to travel safely.”



PennDOT lets over $175 million in projects during March

April 6, 2016

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT let slightly over $175 million projects during the month of March. With this letting, PennDOT has bid a total of $643.6 million in 2016 to date. At this same point last year, PennDOT bid a total of $558.8 million. The official 2015 year-end total was $2.594 billion just shy of PennDOT’s $2.6 billion forecast. PennDOT reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) that 2016 lettings are expected to be $2.4 billion.

With the 2013 enactment of the transportation funding bill (Act 89) there is reason to see increased lettings. 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 March letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

March 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.



Turnpike community mourns workers Daniel Crouse and Ronald Heist

March 25, 2016

PTCMOURNINGOver the weekend, a Turnpike worker and an armed guard were killed by a gunman during an attempted robbery of a teller van at the Fort Littleton interchange.

The worker, Daniel Crouse, had been on the job for fewer than three months; the armed guard, Ronald Heist, was a retired local police officer.

According to authorities, the incident began around 7 a.m. when the assailant, identified as 55-year-old Clarence D. Briggs of Newville, confronted two employees working at a toll booth at the interchange. He displayed a handgun and forced them into a nearby office building, where he attempted to tie them up.

He shot one of the employees when they tried to escape and the security guard that had arrived in the van.  Briggs was fatally shot by state troopers responding to the scene. Read more