Survey shows immediate economic benefits of Act 89

May 19, 2014 by · Comments Off on Survey shows immediate economic benefits of Act 89
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Latham2012webGuest Post By Robert Latham

In overwhelming numbers, Pennsylvania highway contractors are hiring blue-collar workers and will continue to add to those numbers over the next several years, according to a survey by Associated Pennsylvania Constructors.

The APC survey shows that prior to passage of Act 89 (the comprehensive transportation funding bill), the industry was experiencing a substantial decline:

  • 60 percent of highway construction employers had reduced their blue-collar workforce.
  • 63 percent of highway contractors had reduced the number of hours worked by those blue-collar employees who did not lose their jobs.
  • 75 percent of blue-collar wages were either reduced or stayed the same.

However, as a result of the passage of the transportation act:

  • During the next three years, 84 percent of construction employers expect to hire more blue-collar workers.
  • During the next three years, 90 percent of construction employers will increase blue-collar wages.
  • 70 percent of construction employers plan capital investments in equipment, plants, machinery, etc., driving even more private sector jobs.
  • 75 percent of highway construction blue-collar workers earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.

It’s important to note that Act 89 will create and support nearly half-again the number of indirect jobs as it creates in the industry itself. And the industry jobs are family-sustaining jobs, the kind that most of us are very concerned about these days, and rightfully so.

Elected officials who supported Act 89 can point to this legislation as a clear victory for working families in the Commonwealth.  Act 89 immediately saved 12,000 jobs, and studies show that when fully implemented, Act 89 will create up to 50,000 jobs, mostly in industries other than highway construction.


Associated Pennsylvania Constructors is a trade association of more than 400 members that include contractors, consulting engineers, material suppliers, manufacturers and others with an interest in Pennsylvania’s road and bridge construction industry.  For more information, visit



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


PennDOT lets $68 million in March

April 1, 2014 by · Comments Off on PennDOT lets $68 million in March
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NEW_PENNDOTThe effects of Act 89 continue to spike PennDOT lettings in 2014.   PennDOT bid a little over $68 million in projects in March, bringing the year-to-date total to over $448.6 million.  At this same point in 2013, PennDOT only bid $287.4 million in lettings.

With the recent enactment of the transportation funding bill there is reason to see this trend continue.  Act 89, which will implement a $2.3 billion comprehensive transportation funding plan over the next five years, will result in PennDOT coming close to $2 billion in construction lettings in 2014.  PennDOT finished 2013 with $1.6 billion in lettings. Read more


Writer says U.S. derailed itself on infrastructure decades ago

March 27, 2014 by · Comments Off on Writer says U.S. derailed itself on infrastructure decades ago
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In a recently published Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed article, Robert W. Patterson emphasizes the importance of infrastructure in creating and preserving family-sustaining jobs.

Patterson, an aide to former President George W. Bush and Gov. Tom Corbett, provides historical context on how America strayed from its prosperous course of nation-building that made the U.S. a superpower.

In 1971, Congress voted to end funding for the next-generation commercial airliner, the Boeing 2707 SST, essentially ending a century-long streak of national infrastructure development. The decision was followed with additional legislative acts of the ‘70s, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, which blocked further infrastructure projects due to its heavy restrictions. Read more


Gas prices edging up, but are expected to remain lower than last year

February 25, 2014 by · Comments Off on Gas prices edging up, but are expected to remain lower than last year
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Gasoline price watchers are expecting prices to rise in coming weeks, as they usually do in the spring, but not to the extent that they have in the past.

The Kiplinger Letter predicts that the national average price for unleaded regular, at $3.39 per gallon about a dime higher than a week ago, will peak at about $3.60 before leveling off by late spring.

The cause for spring price spikes is maintenance-related refinery closures and the switch to summer gasoline blends. Kiplinger projects that the prices will remain lower this year compared with last.

Read more


‘Out of the mud,’ once again

November 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on ‘Out of the mud,’ once again
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It will probably take several years to fully comprehend and appreciate it, but the events in Harrisburg regarding transportation this week will transform Pennsylvania and its residents, much like Gifford Pinchot’s road-building program transformed the Commonwealth in the 1930s by “getting the farmers out of the mud,” and like the Interstate Highway program transformed our nation in the 1960s.

By an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate, and by a smaller bipartisan majority in the House, the General Assembly approved a comprehensive, multimodal funding package that will increase transportation investment by around $2.3 billion annually over the next five years. Governor Corbett said he will sign the measure next week.


Gov. Corbett expected to formally sign the bill on Monday

Unlike during the previous decades, the new funding act provides for continuing increases in fuel tax and license and registration revenue, thus breaking – or at least mitigating – the cycle of governing by responding to crises every 10 years or so. In any event, Pennsylvania has never been on firmer financial footing in addressing its transportation needs, and that is precisely 180 degrees from where we were just a few days ago.

This week’s achievement was the product of several years of sustained effort on the part of the construction industry, the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition and a multitude of PHIA members. We received a major boost from the business community, both at the state and local levels. It was equal parts of sound policy, deal-making and luck. Read more


Four caucus leaders own success or failure of transportation bill

November 4, 2013 by · Comments Off on Four caucus leaders own success or failure of transportation bill
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The General Assembly is in the second week of a two-week General Election recess, and as you probably know, negotiations on a transportation funding measure are continuing. Legislative leaders said they would take up the measure after they return the week of Nov. 11.

The construction industry and the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition are optimistic that an agreement will be reached, given the positive comments of leaders of the four legislative caucuses last week.

At the top of the list among issues that remain to be resolved is prevailing wage reform. The question is whether a reform measure would attract enough Republican votes to carry the funding measure in the House, then through concurrence with the Senate, or whether such a condition would lose most or all Democratic support.

Phasing out Act 44, which diverts Turnpike revenue to non-Turnpike transportation projects, and increasing license and registration fees also remain part of the discussion. Read more


Scranton region listed as one of 20 worst in U.S. for road conditions

October 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on Scranton region listed as one of 20 worst in U.S. for road conditions
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Pennsylvania made another Top 20 list this week, but not in a good way. The Scranton urban area ranks 17th among mid-size U.S. cities in terms of the percentage of roads in poor condition, according to TRIP, a national transportation research organization.

TRIP said 32 percent of the roads in the Scranton area are in poor condition, costing drivers an extra $539 per year in additional vehicle operating expenses.

“Driving on rough roads is more than just a nuisance for drivers,” said PHIA President Tom Lawson. “The deterioration of our transportation system impedes economic growth and robs drivers of hundreds of dollars each year. Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the federal, state and local level, conditions will continue to deteriorate, drivers will continue to pay the price, and our economy will suffer.”

TRIP said pavement conditions are likely to worsen under current state and federal funding. Through 2032, the U.S. faces a $156 billion shortfall in the amount needed to maintain roadways in their current condition, a $374 billion shortfall to make modest improvements in pavement conditions and a $670 billion shortfall to make significant improvements to roadway conditions. Read more


House Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess Dies

September 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on House Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess Dies
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Hess us flag portPHIA is sad to report the passing of state Rep. Dick Hess, longtime transportation construction industry advocate who, in his 14th term, had arisen to majority chair of the House Transportation Committee. Hess represented the 78th district which includes much of Bedford and Fulton counties.  Recent reports said Dick, 74, a Republican, had incurred complications following recent surgery. He is survived by his wife, Shirley, and his son Jeff.  PHIA expresses its deepest condolences to his family and salute his many accomplishments during an exemplary public service career.  He will be sorely missed.

“I have personally known Rep. Hess for over 15 years,” said PHIA managing director Jason Wagner.  “He was a faithful public servant and was not only a strong advocate for the transportation industry, he was a devoted husband and father.  I was honored to have known him and call him my friend.  He will be sorely missed and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania truly lost a special person today.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this time.”

PHIA will pass along more details regarding arrangements as they become available.



Congressman Scott Perry to Keynote PHIA Conference

April 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on Congressman Scott Perry to Keynote PHIA Conference
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2013-01-23_fcm_0001United 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.