News

PA Turnpike COO speaks at PHIA Policy Breakfast

May 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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IMG_0283Pennsylvania Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey joined policy leaders at the PHIA Policy Breakfast series this week to discuss recent events and the future of the PA Turnpike.

Shuey reviewed recent Turnpike events, including the move to a 70-mile-per-hour speed limit, and the challenges of the January snow storm. He was very positive about the increase in the speed limit, explaining that consistent speeds across the entire turnpike increase safety as drivers know what to expect.

“All we are about [the Pennsylvania Turnpike] is moving people safely,” Shuey said. The concern about the safety of motorists and construction workers alike has prompted the Turnpike Commission to support a proposed automated speed limit  enforcement in work zones.

Nearly 300 miles of the Turnpike have been improved, are in the process of improvements, or are slated for improvement projects. The Turnpike’s $450 million annual contribution to public transportation funding has pushed its debt toward $10 billion, but Act 89 provides for that payment to end in 2022.

“It was very valuable for our guests to hear of the projects on the Turnpike,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We will need as many allies as possible to protect transportation dollars for transportation projects.”

 

Featured

‘Free’ police coverage has a high price tag

May 5, 2016 by · 1 Comment
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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.”

The growing cost leads the General Assembly and administration to divert increasing resources from the Motor License Fund.  More than $800 million is proposed to be shifted from the Motor License Fund to pay for the State Police in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget. This means that fewer transportation improvement projects will be funded.

“The growing cost to the State Police for providing local police coverage should not come at the expense of transportation improvement projects,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Act 89 was a huge step forward in improving our roads and bridges, but it cannot work as well as it should if increasing transportation dollars continue to be used for ‘free’ State Police coverage.”

 

News

PennDOT lets over $175 million in projects during March

April 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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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.

 

News

PennDOT lets $277 million in projects during February

March 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT let over $277 million projects during the month of February.  With this letting, PennDOT has bid a total of $467.2 million in 2016 to date.  At this same point last year, PennDOT bid a total of $396.3 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 February letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

February 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.

 

Featured, News

Local Governments to Receive $445 Million for Road Maintenance

March 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Under Act 89, the comprehensive multi-modal transportation funding bill, Pennsylvania municipalities receive a sum of money annually to maintain local roads and bridges.

This year, PennDOT will release more than $445 million to local governments for this purpose. Local road maintenance is one of the major accomplishments of Act 89. Before the bill passed in 2013, municipalities received just $320 million for the same purpose.

The 2016 disbursement is an increase from last year as well, up from $381 million. Funds come from liquid fuels payments to the state, and can be used to repair public streets where vehicles travel faster than 15 mph.

Of the 120,039 miles of public roads in Pennsylvania, 72,759 are eligible for liquid fuels money.

“The increase in liquid fuels payments to municipalities is just one of the many accomplishments of Act 89,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We have seen considerable improvements to local roads, state roads and bridges, and we will continue to see improvements that would not have been possible without the bipartisan effort behind Act 89.”

 

News

PennDOT starts 2016 with $217 million in projects bid

February 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT began the new calendar year with just over $217 million in January lettings.  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 January letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

January 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.

 

Featured, News

PHIA president Van Buren supports State Police funding study

February 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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HARRISBURG (Feb. 8, 2016) – The president of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association today urged a legislative committee to request a study to determine the appropriate level of support for State Police operations with revenue from the state’s Motor License Fund.

VanBurenHearingPSPJames Van Buren, who also is president of PennStress, a precast concrete supplier, told the House Transportation Committee that an increasing amount of revenue intended for transportation system improvements has been diverted from the Motor License Fund to support the State Police and now totals $755 million, nearly two-thirds of the entire State Police budget.

Van Buren noted that under the Pennsylvania Constitution, revenue from the Motor License Fund may be used only for highway purposes. While that includes patrolling the highways, he said the amounts being diverted are far greater than the level of resources the agency devotes to highway patrols.

Click HERE to read more of the press release on the hearing.

 

Featured, News

PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

November 24, 2015 by · Comments Off on PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding
Filed under: Featured, News 

STATEPOLICE (002)PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards held media availability recently to discuss PennDOT’s ongoing projects and needs. One of the more pressing needs she addressed was reliable federal funding.

“It helps us if we have a long-term bill and in the world of the federal government, six years is a long-term bill,” Secretary Richards said. “Of course it helps us if that long-term bill has predictable funding for all six years. It is really hard for us to plan if we don’t know that funding is predictable. That challenge of how much money we have and what needs to be done is something we deal with every day here at PennDOT.”

She also highlighted another issue that PHIA has been concerned about for some time: diverting money from Motor License Fund to help support State Police. The Motor License Fund is constitutionally protected fund for highway use.

“We are pleased that the Motor License Fund issue is on the secretary’s radar, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to find a solution,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Highway patrol is a highway use, but two thirds of the State Police budget is coming from the Motor License Fund, and it certainly does not appear that the agency devotes two thirds of its resources for that purpose.”

 

News

PennDOT lets $207 million in October

November 4, 2015 by · Comments Off on PennDOT lets $207 million in October
Filed under: News 

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT continued its strong, post-Act 89 momentum by letting just over $207 million in projects during October, bringing the year-to-date total to just over  $2.2 billion. Last year, PennDOT ended the year with $2.6 billion in lettings, the highest since 2009 when the program was boosted by the one-time economic stimulus package. PennDOT exceeded its initial 2014 estimate of $2.2 billion and it was reported earlier that PennDOT’s 2015 anticipated lettings will again be $2.6 billion.  However, we anticipate that PennDOT will fall short of this projection and finish the year in the $2.4 to $2.5 billion range.

At the end of 2013, PennDOT only bid $1.638 billion in lettings. Act 89 enabled PennDOT to put nearly a $1 billion more projects on the street in 2014 than it was able to do in 2013. Read more

News

Congress approves three-week highway funding extension

November 3, 2015 by · Comments Off on Congress approves three-week highway funding extension
Filed under: News 

congress progressLast week, Congress acted to extend highway funding for an additional three weeks beyond the current deadline.

The bill authorizes federal transportation funding through November 20. President Obama has outspokenly opposed short-term funding for highways passed in lieu of long-term funding, but is expected to sign the bill. Members of Congress in both chambers have stated that the short-term funding provides more time to work on a long-term bill without defaulting on projects.

Over the summer, the Senate passed a six-year highway funding bill but only included three years of guaranteed funding. The House is currently working on its own version of a six-year bill that includes $325 billion in funding with three years of funding, but cuts off spending after three years if Congress does not establish a funding formula for the final three years. This measure is expected to see a floor vote in the next few weeks.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and raises $34 billion annually, but the federal government spends $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

“Unpredictable funding from the federal government has plagued the highway community for several years,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Infrastructure improvement projects require consistent and reliable funding, and Congress has failed to provide that. Road improvements will slow if a long-term solution is not reached soon.”

 

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