PHIA’s annual conference last month featured a wide variety of interesting presentations. Here the presenters summarize their thoughts.
The presentations made during the 2014 PHIA Transportation Conference and Annual Meeting last week are now available for download or viewing. To access them, click HERE.
PHIA members know that we don’t hand out our Advocate of the Year awards to just anyone. In fact, it’s not unusual for us to skip the award some years.
This year, however, we honored not one, but two transportation advocates, and it won’t surprise anyone to learn that they are Gov. Tom Corbett and PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch. Both were instrumental in the passage of Act 89, Pennsylvania’s first-ever comprehensive, multimodal transportation funding measure. It wouldn’t have happened without them.
In fact, there was no shortage of kudos at this year’s Transportation Conference and Annual Meeting, held Wednesday at the Harrisburg Hilton. While the governor and Secretary Schoch – Barry was serving as PHIA president when he was nominated as secretary – deservedly took PHIA’s top honors, the organization bestowed special recognition on Sens. John Rafferty and John Wozniak, majority and minority chairs, respectively, of the Senate Transportation Committee; Reps. Nick Micozzie and Michael McGeehan, majority and minority chairs, respectively, of the House Transportation Committee; Sen. Jake Corman, who introduced the initial transportation funding legislation; House Speaker Sam Smith, who shepherded the final bill through the House; and the late Dick Hess, who was chairman of the House Transportation Committee at the time of his death, and who had been instrumental in paving the way for the funding bill in the House.
Also honored were George Wolff, founder of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, and Coalition member Mike Ryan, who headed the organization’s legislative outreach efforts for the last two years.
The conference featured presentations from APC’s Bob Latham on how the industry and its allies worked together to support the funding act, Turnpike CEO Mark Compton on how Act 89 will benefit the Turnpike, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. with the view from Washington and elsewhere, and Stan Caldwell of Carnegie Mellon University on autonomous vehicles and other technology under development by CMU’s University Transportation Center.
Another of the morning’s highlights featured a panel discussion by the heads of three local Chambers of Commerce, Tom Baldrige of Lancaster, David Black of Harrisburg and Amy Wise of Huntingdon County, moderated by Quantum Communications CEO Charlie Gerow.
PHIA extends thanks to all the presenters and to the more than 200 attendees who helped make this year’s conference one of the best-attended and interesting gatherings in our 54-year history.
We will post video of the event on this site in the coming days. Meanwhile, visit the Pennsylvania Cable Network website at https://pcntv.com and check the programming schedule for reruns of the conference.
United States Congressman Scott Perry (R-Cumberland) has accepted an invitation to be the Keynote Luncheon Speaker at the upcoming PA Highway Information Association Transportation Conference and Annual Meeting on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at the Hilton Harrisburg. Perry is in his first term as a congressman and is a member of the prestigious House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Perry previously served in the Pennsylvania State House for 6 years and prior to his government service was the founder of a mechanical contracting firm, Hydrotech Mechanical Services, Inc. Perry is a veteran of the PA Army National Guard where he served as Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, which was deployed in Iraq from January 2009 to January 2010. Perry was later promoted to the rank of Colonel and recently assumed garrison command of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Training Site.
Congressman Perry will provide insight as a freshman legislator in Washington and member of the House T&I Committee.
Those who attended the PHIA Transportation Conference and Annual Meeting came away with a combination of good and bad news related to the likelihood of transportation funding solutions.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said he remains optimistic that the General Assembly and administration will begin tackling the funding issue, perhaps as soon as May, and that he believes that whatever policymakers support, it will include the most important elements among the recommendations of the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.
Schoch said he and Governor Corbett plan to meet with legislative leaders at the end of April to determine a course of action.
Sen. Jake Corman also delivered a pep talk, urging attendees to continue the push and keep the faith. Corman, who introduced legislation in the Senate that mirrored the TFAC recommendations, said he believes the Senate is ready to address the issue and has the votes to advance the issue.
Corman made an interesting point countering the notion that legislators will have a difficult time with gasoline hovering at $4 per gallon. He noted that the oil companies price their product by region based on what the markets will bear, and because of the current price may actually absorb a greater portion of any Oil Company Franchise Tax increase instead of passing it along to motorists.
Schoch and Corman both spoke of the “cost of doing nothing,” noting that Pennsylvanians can either pay to fix the problem, or pay to continue to have the problem. Congested roads, rough pavement and weight-restricted or closed bridges increase the cost of fuel and maintenance, as well as for products that move through the Commonwealth.
As for a solution at the federal level, Congressman Bill Shuster’s keynote address was not as cheery. There is no appetite in Washington increase the federal fuel taxes, he said, nor is there enough support for expanded tolling at present.
Shuster said he has been tasked with “selling” the House Republican’s proposed five-year funding bill before the latest funding extension – the ninth since the most recent funding measure expired 2 ½ years ago – expires at the end of June.
PHIA wishes to thank the speakers, as well as attendees, for a successful event.
Anyone who has ideas or comments regarding the event is welcome to email Managing Director Jason Wagner at jwagner@PaHighwayInfo.org.
United States Congressman Bill Shuster will be the Keynote Speaker at PHIA’s Annual Transportation Conference, which is scheduled for April 3, 2012, at the Hilton Harrisburg. Shuster is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This subcommittee is one of the most important transportation subcommittees in the House due to its jurisdiction over everything involving rail transportation, from AMTRAK passenger to freight and cargo rail, employee contracts, and rail security.
At the conference, Shuster will discuss the status of the federal transportation reauthorization bill and his role as one of the chief negotiators of the House proposal.
Shuster was first elected in 2001 and represents much of south-central Pennsylvania. He resides in Hollidaysburg, Pa.