CALENDAR EVENT, Events

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

 

News

Federal budget proposal met with skepticism

February 14, 2020

The Trump administration released its proposed 2021 fiscal budget this week. The infrastructure piece of it was quite interesting, but it has already been met with skepticism as to whether it will fly in Congress.

As part of a proposed $1 trillion infrastructure investment, the budget proposes an $810 billion, 10-year surface transportation reauthorization. The House and Senate are working on five-year plans.

But as Politico asserted in an analysis on Tuesday:

The request says the 10-year bill will be funded with contract authority, but that’s not spendable money — it’s a budgetary tool that allows states or agencies to enter into binding contracts, which the federal government promises to pay back later, usually through appropriated money. There’s very little chance lawmakers would get on board with that (although, they haven’t had much luck figuring out how to fill the Highway Trust Fund themselves). 

“Politico’s prognosis for advancing any of the current proposals may sound cynical, but there’s been no evidence pointing to a scenario in which Congress and the administration can reach a consensus,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “And however one looks at transportation funding issues – federal and state – real solutions must be funded with real money. So far, there hasn’t been agreement on how or whether to do that.”

Politico’s analysis can be found at this link.

 

News

Supreme Court rejects truckers’ Turnpike tolls appeal

January 29, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal by an independent truck owner group that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission shouldn’t be allowed to collect tolls for non-turnpike costs.

The association claimed the turnpike overcharged for tolls because it has been required to give $450 million a year to the state Department of Transportation to help pay for public transportation services.  The truckers contended the payments were illegal.

In declining to hear the case, the court upheld lower federal court decisions. The payments will be reduced to $50 million annually beginning in 2023, and lawmakers are considering alternative funding sources for transit agencies.

You can read a news account of the court’s decision at this link.

 

News

Rep. White briefs stakeholders on transportation revenue recommendations

January 16, 2020

Last month, we reported on the results of a study of transportation funding options by a 10-member task force made up of members of the House Republican Caucus. This week, its chair, state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), briefed the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition on the recommendations.

The recommendations included numerous options for addressing transportation funding needs, such as:

  • Lessening or halting revenue diversions from the Motor License Fund, the constitutionally protected repository for fuel taxes and license and registration fees.
  • 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.
  • Creating county infrastructure banks.

Representative White filled in some details and provided insight into the task force’s deliberations. PHIA and other transportation stakeholders are hopeful that the General Assembly and governor will agree to accelerate the rollback of the revenue that is being diverted from the Motor License Fund. Rolling back the entire diverted amount to zero would make more than $700 million available for bridge and highway projects without raising fuel taxes and license and registration fees.

 

Events, PHIA Programs & Awards

PHIA Takes Nominations for Annual Road & Bridge Safety Awards

December 30, 2019

Each year the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) team with various state organizations to recognize the best road safety or bridge improvement projects undertaken across the state.  Go HERE for complete information.

Eligible projects are those in which most or all of the safety improvements were completed in 2019.  The competition recognizes not only major, high-cost projects, but any improvements that have increased public safety.