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‘Green Light Go’ on PA Newsmakers this week

October 17, 2014 by · Comments Off on ‘Green Light Go’ on PA Newsmakers this week
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LathamSchochNewsmakersAmong the solutions for improving highways is one that requires relatively little investment and no new construction. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, appearing on Pennsylvania Newsmakers this week, outlined the department’s “Green Light Go” program and joined Associated Pennsylvania Constructors’ Bob Latham to provide a progress report on Act 89, the transportation funding measure that passed nearly one year ago.

“There’s no better low-cost improvement to reduce congestion and improve safety than to upgrade traffic signals,” the secretary said. To view the entire segment, click here.

 

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2014 Transportation Conference a Success

May 8, 2014 by · Comments Off on 2014 Transportation Conference a Success
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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.

Tom CorbettThis 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. Read more

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PennDOT posts weight restrictions on 1,000 bridges

August 22, 2013 by · 1 Comment
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PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch announced today that the department has posted weight restrictions on approximately 1,000 state and local bridges in order to minimize wear and tear on them in the absence of a bridge and highway funding plan. A listing of the bridges can be viewed by clicking on “Bridge Information” in the right-hand column at www.dot.state.pa.us.

In a statement released this morning, Secretary Schoch said, “Posting bridges with weight restrictions minimizes the wear and tear which will help keep the structures open and safer for a longer period of time. This will also allow us to continue to invest our limited resources into higher-priority bridges.

“Pennsylvania has the third-largest number of bridges in the nation, but the average bridge age is 51. We also lead the nation in the number of bridges classified as structurally deficient. To this point, Pennsylvania has been one of the most liberal with posting criteria compared to other states, all within national standards. For comparison, if we utilized Connecticut’s more-stringent criteria, more than 11,000 weight restrictions would exist in Pennsylvania. Also, Pennsylvania currently ranks 35th in the nation for the number of SD bridges that are posted or closed. As we move to this more conservative posting method we will rank 27th.  Read more

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Funding solution optimism grows

November 19, 2012 by · Comments Off on Funding solution optimism grows
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PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said on Friday that he believes Pennsylvania will move forward with a major transportation funding initiative early next year.

Speaking to a large crowd at the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors’ Fall Conference, Schoch said he is more optimistic than he has been since accepting his appointment as PennDOT secretary that the General Assembly and administration are prepared to move the issue forward.

He noted that, in the last two years, PennDOT had made significant progress in modernization efforts that have improved the agency’s efficiency, and have positioned it to assure lawmakers that any increased revenue would be spent wisely.

Schoch said the cornerstone of the initiative will likely be the uncapping of the Oil Company Franchise Tax.  He also said the administration is interested in pursuing tolling opportunities that were incorporated in the two-year federal funding measure known as MAP-21.

Both of those funding mechanisms are in keeping with Governor Corbett’s desire to focus on user-fee solutions, he said, adding that there is concern with other measures, such as license and registration fees, which affect all motorists regardless of how much they use the highway system.

Schoch’s advice to the group was to continue to participate in outreach efforts with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition in order to let elected officials know of the strong support that exists for addressing the funding problem.

 

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The cost of doing nothing

March 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on The cost of doing nothing
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PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch frequently points out that there are costs for NOT addressing transportation funding needs.  A new U.S. Treasury report says traffic congestion wastes 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline per year.  Additionally, the report says, poor road conditions cost the average urban motorist an additional $400 per year in vehicle maintenance.  For a news account of the report, click here.

 

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Joint transportation committee hears TFAC update

September 27, 2011 by · Comments Off on Joint transportation committee hears TFAC update
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Members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate transportation committees opened a joint hearing Tuesday to be briefed on the recommendations of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC).

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch opened with an update on the damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, then followed with a summary of the TFAC report. Much of his focus was on various “modernization” initiatives that PennDOT already has begun to undertake.

He also laid out the reasoning behind the recommended lifting of the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, explaining that unlike some previous funding proposals all transportation system users, including those who are not Pennsylvania residents, would share the burden equitably. Read more

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Funding recommendations presented to governor

August 4, 2011 by · 2 Comments
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Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Committee this week presented the governor with recommendations that eventually would raise an additional $2.5 billion annually for the transportation needs of PennDOT, local governments and public transit agencies.  It also contains a number of modernization recommendations aimed at ensuring that PennDOT funds are spent as efficiently as possible.

The cost to a typical motorist – someone who drives 12,000 miles per year in a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon – would be only 70 cents per week in the first year, growing to about $2.50 per week by the fifth year.

A copy of the entire report is available by clicking here.

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Initial reaction to funding plan: thumbs up

July 22, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Governor Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission will present the governor with its recommendations on Aug. 1, but the initial reaction among newspapers around the state has been very positive so far.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (click here), Harrisburg Patriot-News (click here), and Scranton Times-Tribune (click here) quickly and enthusiastically endorsed the commission’s recommendations and urged Corbett to get behind them.  Adoption of the funding plan will require action by the General Assembly, as well as the governor’s support.

The recommendations would eventually raise an additional $2.7 billion per year, at a weekly cost to a typical motorist of only 70 cents the first year and about $2.50 the third year – less than the cost of a gallon of gas per week, as noted by PennDOT Secretary/Commission Chair Barry Schoch.

Details regarding the commission’s meetings, including funding scenarios, are available at www.tfac.pa.gov.

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Work Zone Awareness Week

April 4, 2011 by · Comments Off on Work Zone Awareness Week
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PennDOT Secretary-designate Barry Schoch kicked off Work Zone Awareness Week on Monday, noting that 22 people were killed in work zones in 2010, a year in which there were more work-zone crashes than any of the last five years.

“Highway work zones are among the most dangerous places to work, with workers putting their lives at risk each time they fix a roadway or repair a gas, electric or water line,” said Schoch, formerly PHIA’s president. “These workers are trying to perform difficult jobs while tons of steel race past them. Always use caution in work zones and never drive distracted. Your life and the lives of highway workers and other motorists are at stake.”

According to PennDOT data, the 22 people killed in work zones last year included three PennDOT employees and one contractor. Three of those worker deaths were caused by a vehicle entering the work zone. Since 1970, 82 PennDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty.

In 2010, there were 1,884 crashes in work zones, a dramatic increase from the 1,519 crashes in 2009. Over the five-year period, there were 8,302 work-zone crashes and 114 fatalities.

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PHIA’s Barry Schoch nominated for PennDOT secretary

January 12, 2011 by · 15 Comments
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PHIA President Barry Schoch, a vice president at McCormick Taylor and a passionate and forceful advocate for a 21st Century transportation system in Pennsylvania, has been nominated as PennDOT secretary, Governor-elect Tom Corbett announced today. Read more