News

Thruway project moving toward new milestone

May 2, 2017

Of all the transportation improvements planned or already underway since the passage of Act 89 of 2013, few fall into the category of “marquee projects.” One that does is the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project, a new, four-lane, 13-mile limited access highway in Monroe Township and Shamokin Dam Borough, Snyder County.

Looking southwest from Ridge Road across PA 147, river, and US 15The project will connect Routes 11/15 north of Selinsgrove to U.S. 15 south of Winfield and include a connector from the new highway to the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Route 61. Projected for completion in 2024, it will separate trucks and through traffic from local traffic, reducing congestion, improving safety and spurring economic growth.

Work on the northern section has commenced. The project will reach another milestone May 25 when PennDOT unveils a first draft of the southern section during a public meeting at Selinsgrove Middle School. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m.

In February, PennDOT announced that several environmental and engineering challenges had surfaced, requiring some route modifications. The proposed alternatives will be unveiled at the meeting, and PennDOT hopes to identify the preferred alternative later this year.

“Nearly every project funded by Act 89 will improve safety, reduce congestion and accommodate economic growth in some manner, but the thruway project is really a shining example,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “We hope to have more of these kinds of projects that will add capacity once we bring the existing highway infrastructure up to a better state of repair in the years ahead.”

 

News

Saylor speaks at PHIA breakfast event

April 20, 2017

SaylorPORT_250Republican House Appropriations Chair Stan Saylor spoke this week at a PHIA Policy Breakfast, briefing attendees on state budget deliberations and weighing in on the State Police funding issue.

Saylor’s mantra has been about the need to reshape state government, which he said would be a four or five-year process to realign programs and services and phase out activities that prevent the Commonwealth from living within its means.

On the State Police funding issue, he said his preference would be to require municipalities with a population of at least 10,000 to pay the full cost of state police protection if they have no local police protection. That cost has been estimated at around $230 per resident per year.

The event had been rescheduled because of the March snowstorm. The organization hopes to schedule two additional breakfast briefings before the end of June.

 

News

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 15

April 10, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Pa. troopers cracking down on speeding in work zones

Pennsylvania State troopers have a message for drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike — Slow down, pay attention or you will pay.

The speeding sting stems from a tragic loss. Nearly three years ago, a Pennsylvania Turnpike worker was killed near the Downingtown Exit because someone was speeding. Since then, State Police have been conducting speeding stings to prevent workers from being injured or killed.

Trump building plan: how one public-private deal hit a bumpy road

Texas had high hopes for the southern segments of SH 130, a 41-mile stretch of the high-speed toll road east of San Antonio. A pair of investors stepped forward and offered what sounded like a great deal: Texas would get a big check for turning the rights to build and operate the toll road over to a private entity, a move that would give the state a new highway and a share of the tolls.

But a decade after Texas and its partners first shook hands, the corporation running the road is in bankruptcy — with more than $430 million still owed to U.S. taxpayers — and more than a billion owed to other investors, too.

Governor, PennDOT announce 2017 infrastructure investments in NEPA

Governor Tom Wolf joined representatives from PennDOT to launch the 2017 construction season and announce major investments in road improvements throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Due to Act 89, the state’s transportation plan, northeastern Pennsylvania will see a significant increase in the amount of work taking place this year to improve the transportation network for the region.

Today’s Editorial: Find balance between roads and police

It’s difficult to argue the Pennsylvania State Police is not worth the money state taxpayers spend for the wide-reaching protection.

With reduced numbers and a wide coverage area, the State Police faces increasing challenges of covering areas that do not feature local law enforcement agencies as more municipalities fall under its umbrella.

However, as the state’s infrastructure — from roads to bridges to ports — continues to crumble, the practice of siphoning money out of the Motor License Fund is a matter of concern.

Paying for police: Rep. Sturla hopes his equity plan benefits from governor’s push

Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, has been calling for a state charge to municipalities without local police forces for Pennsylvania State Police coverage for nearly 15 years, to no avail. What’s different this time? He has a powerful ally.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed implementing a $25-per-person fee for state police coverage in un-policed townships and boroughs in his $32.3 billion 2017-18 budget.

 

News

So far, so good on restoring diverted highway money

April 6, 2017

houseLargePA House Republicans this week introduced a proposed state budget that counters the proposal put forth several weeks ago by Governor Wolf.

The good news is that the administration and lawmakers are closer from the outset than they have been in the past. Additional good news is that both versions call for reducing the amount of revenue that has been diverted from the Motor License Fund to support State Police operations.

The governor proposed a $63 million cut in money diverted from the Motor License Fund, which is the constitutionally created source for most of PennDOT’s operations and highway construction and maintenance. The governor proposed to offset the reduction to State Police by imposing a $25 per capita fee on municipalities that rely solely on the State Police for community policing. Read more

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Committee concludes PA should restore more than $220 million for highway work

March 24, 2017

The Pennsylvania Legislative Budget & Finance Committee has released the long-awaited report determining the appropriate and justifiable amount of Motor License Fund revenue that can be used to fund State Police operations.

PAWIREFRAMEPOLICEUsing the 2015-16 fiscal year as a benchmark, the report said the appropriate amount that year would have been $532.8 million, not the $755 million that was actually diverted. In the current fiscal year, $802 million was diverted, but Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for next year would reduce that amount by $63 million.

Legislation passed last year mandates that the diverted amount be reduced in each of the next 10 years until it reaches the appropriate level. It is important to note that the Commonwealth has the ability to revise that mandate by enacting new legislation.

At issue was whether the Commonwealth had been diverting more than permitted by the Pennsylvania Constitution, which requires that revenue from fuel taxes and license and registration fees be used strictly for highway purposes. The report concluded that more than $220 million that is being diverted should not be, enough to resurface more than 1,100 lane miles of roadway, or to design, replace and maintain 138 bridges for the next 25 years.

The $532.8 figure results from the committee’s conclusion that State Police expend 47 percent of the agency’s resources for activities related to highway safety.

While the report answers an important question, the method by which the Commonwealth would restore the Motor License Fund resources to the proper level remains unresolved. Governor Wolf has proposed collecting a fee of $25 per resident from municipalities that rely on full-time State Police coverage rather than a local or regional police force, and several legislators also have offered proposals.

To view the full report, click HERE.  To view the report highlights, click HERE.

 

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