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Saylor speaks at PHIA breakfast event

April 20, 2017 by · Comments Off on Saylor speaks at PHIA breakfast event
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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.

 

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The times they are a-changin’

January 18, 2017 by · Comments Off on The times they are a-changin’
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Although we are and always have been the Pa. Highway Information Association, we tend to take a broad view of transportation, thinking of it as a single, integrated, multi-modal system of mobility.

MOVINGFORWARDThis month, Governing Magazine published an insightful article titled, “Urban Transportation’s Multimodal Future,” in which author Bob Graves asserts the following:

“The future, more and more urban transportation experts are coming to believe, lies in mobility-friendly networks in which cars are just one element – and an ever-shrinking one as we move from a system in which the personally owned vehicle is king and toward a multimodal future of on-demand driverless vehicles, ride-sharing, expanded public transit, greater reliance on human-powered transportation and other alternatives.”

Like us, he’s watching intently as our friends at PennDOT and Carnegie Mellon University, along with others across the country, push forward with autonomous vehicle technology. And he’s right – it will transform mobility and our cities as significantly as the personal automobile and the Interstate Highway System did in the last century.

As with any transformative change, there will be some resistance to it and challenges to overcome, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that a change is surely coming.

To read the entire Governing article, click here.

 

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PennDOT bids to be a proving ground for autonomous vehicle technology

January 11, 2017 by · 1 Comment
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Autonomous self-driving driverless vehicle with radar on the roadLate last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched an effort to identify facilities that could serve as proving grounds for autonomous vehicle technology. PennDOT has responded to the solicitation, essentially saying, “Deal us in.”

Pennsylvania’s response includes the city of Pittsburgh, where a significant volume of autonomous vehicle testing already is underway in an urban setting, thanks mainly to the research and development efforts of Carnegie Mellon University. It also includes a closed track at Penn State University for low-speed testing and Pocono Raceway for higher-speed testing and multiple connected vehicles, also known as “platooning.”

“As we have said before in this forum, autonomous vehicles are much closer to a reality than many people are aware,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “The vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, and while driverless vehicles may sound like a scary proposition at first, reducing or eliminating human errors will go a long way toward making highway travel safer. It’s exciting to have Pennsylvania in the middle of this technological advancement.”

 

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Driverless technology advances in Pennsylvania

December 14, 2016 by · 1 Comment
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Autonomous self-driving driverless vehicle with radar on the roadWhile engineers and auto manufacturers continue to work on driverless technology, Pennsylvania is beginning work on the regulations that will guide this fledgling industry.

PennDOT assembled an Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force to draft recommendations on the rules for driverless cars. The goal was to combine the state’s focus on innovation with the public’s need for safety.

Combining input from organizations including the Federal Highway Administration, AAA, Carnegie Mellon University, General Motors, Uber, the University of Pennsylvania, SAE and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, the task force produced a report containing the following recommendations:

  • Testers of Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs) must submit testing proposals to PennDOT and enter contracts attesting that the vehicles meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT.
  • PennDOT must be notified prior to any HAV being used without an operator in fully self-driving mode.
  • PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission may temporarily restrict HAVs from certain routes. Otherwise, HAVs may be tested on any road in the state. Municipalities can also ask PennDOT to temporarily restrict HAVs on local routes.
  • Platooning, or electronically joining two or more vehicles controlled by a lead vehicle, also was addressed. Platooning of HAVs will be limited to two commercial or three passenger vehicles. PennDOT can approve additional vehicles in platoons after seeing a safety demonstration.
  • The HAVs must be able to record data that can be used to investigate crashes involving the HAVs. PennDOT will have access to the data.
  • Testers must certify that cybersecurity protections are in place for the HAVs.
  • PennDOT will collect data on total HAV miles traveled, total hours of operation, and size of HAV fleets. PennDOT may also ask for other information such as counties where HAVs are being tested and percentage of testing done on limited access highways.

“The prospect of driverless cars on our highways is an exciting prospect, but one that should be approached with the utmost focus on safety,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “The report produced by this task force is a positive step toward reasonable regulation.”

 

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President-elect Donald Trump nominates Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation

November 30, 2016 by · Comments Off on President-elect Donald Trump nominates Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation
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819px-elaine_chao_large-819x675President-elect Donald Trump announced that Elaine Chao is his nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation. Chao is the former secretary of labor under President George W. Bush.

Chao has had a long and successful career in Washington. She’s the first Asian-American woman to have held a cabinet-level position. Before becoming labor secretary, she served as a deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush. Her work in transportation was primarily in maritime travel; Chao was the chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

In addition to her service in the federal government, Chao has been president and CEO of the United Way of America, director of the Peace Corps and a distinguished fellow with the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation.

She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

“We are encouraged by Chao’s strong record in transportation and labor issues at the federal level,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “The Trump administration has promised major investment in infrastructure, and the secretary of transportation will play a critical role in that work.”

 

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President-elect Trump proposes $1T infrastructure plan

November 18, 2016 by · Comments Off on President-elect Trump proposes $1T infrastructure plan
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Road constructionFollowing his electoral victory last Tuesday night, President-elect Donald Trump has delved further into the policy required to enact some of his campaign promises. One such promise was $1 trillion invested in infrastructural improvements.

His proposal is a 10-year program, with funding for highways, tunnels, bridges and airports. The funding comes in large part from tax credits to spur private investment. It does not include any changes to the Highway Trust Fund, or an increase in the federal gas tax.

The plan was mentioned in Trump’s acceptance speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” Trump said. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure — which will become, by the way, second to none — and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

Trump’s proposal has garnered much support in the transportation industry, and on both sides of the aisle of Congress in Washington. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, from Pennsylvania, called the plan “encouraging” and said that “the idea of addressing transportation is gaining some traction in Washington.”

“The highway industry in Pennsylvania is very much looking forward to seeing this proposal enacted,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We are glad the president-elect acknowledges the improvements that need to be made to our infrastructure, and we are ready to get to work.”

 

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A lasting legacy…The Honorable J. Barry Stout

October 31, 2016 by · Comments Off on A lasting legacy…The Honorable J. Barry Stout
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stoutIn Memorium…The Honorable J. Barry Stout

State Sen. J. Barry Stout, longtime legislator, family man and one of the best friends the transportation industry ever had, died Saturday at the age of 79 at his home in Bentleyville.

“His passing is a great loss to his constituents and to the Commonwealth as a whole,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “He had many, many noteworthy accomplishments, and his support for the transportation industry in his role as Democratic Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee was just stellar. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family.”

Stout received PHIA’s highest honor–The Transportation Advocate of the Year Award–in 1998.  Stout also was a honorary lifetime members of the organization and frequent participant in the association’s activities.

To read Senator Stout’s obituary, click here.

 

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Turnpike, PennDOT Challenged By Storm

January 27, 2016 by · Comments Off on Turnpike, PennDOT Challenged By Storm
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snow-jonasRecord-setting Blizzard Jonas proved to be a tough test for Pennsylvania’s snow removal efforts. Hundreds of motorists were trapped on the PA Turnpike as up to three feet of snow accumulated in the mid-state. According to some news accounts, the Turnpike blockage occurred when two westbound tractor trailers collided near the Allegheny tunnels.

Throughout the snow removal process, which will continue through this week in many municipalities, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and Gov. Tom Wolf visited with PennDOT crews and monitored progress. The governor has described PennDOT’s performance as “nearly perfect.”

“PHIA supports any effort to make Pennsylvania’s highways safer, but would also like to applaud the efforts of PennDOT, the National Guard and the Turnpike Commission who worked tirelessly to make sure motorists were kept safe and evacuated as quickly as possible,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We caution motorists to stay safe for the rest of the week as their local roads are cleared.”

 

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2016 Road & Bridge Safety Award Program Now Open to PA Boroughs

January 21, 2016 by · Comments Off on 2016 Road & Bridge Safety Award Program Now Open to PA Boroughs
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PSAB_borough_seal_outlinesEach 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.  For the 34th straight year, the program is now open for members of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB).  The same award program for PA’s townships opened last month and will open later in the year for PA’s counties.  Eligible projects are those in which most or all of the safety improvements were completed in 2015.  The competition recognizes not only major, high-cost projects, but any improvements that have increased public safety.

Go here for complete information and to download the entry brochures.

 

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PennDOT Partners With Waze

December 22, 2015 by · Comments Off on PennDOT Partners With Waze
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WazeGovernor Tom Wolf announced a partnership between PennDOT and user-crowd-sourcing traffic app, Waze.

The app shows users a map of their route along with updates from other users. Users are able to report accidents and road conditions. The partnership with PennDOT will allow PennDOT to share its information with Waze and improve the quantity and quality of information available to users.

“As travelers rely more and more on their smartphones for real-time traffic data, this new partnership represents yet another way PennDOT is modernizing to keep up with the demands of its customers,” Governor Wolf said in his announcement.

The app is already very popular in the state and Waze reports that Philadelphia has more than 417,000 active users per month and Pittsburgh has more than 80,000 active users per month.

“PennDOT is always looking for ways to make it easier and safer to travel on our roadways,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said.

“PHIA applauds every effort to make our roads safer and to help people manage traffic congestion,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “This will be especially helpful as many Pennsylvanians prepare to travel throughout the holidays.”

 

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