Still no widespread speed increase for PA Turnpike, Interstates

July 28, 2015

70-MPH-signLast year, Pennsylvania increased the speed limit to 70 mph on parts of the Turnpike and Interstates 80 and 380 as part of a pilot study, leading many to believe that widespread speed increases were imminent.

However, the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT say they are still studying the impact of the change. So far, they have no definitive conclusion as to whether the increased speed limit is safe or unsafe.PennDOT estimated that the average driver would save approximately 6 minutes per 97 miles on the Turnpike with the speed increase, 5.8 minutes per 88 miles on I-80, and 1.4 minutes per 21 miles on I-380.

Pennsylvania is the 38th state to start moving highway speed limits to 70 mph; West Virginia bumped up its limits back in 1997.

“Whether the maximum speed limit on Pennsylvania highways is 65 or 70 is less important to PHIA than the assurance that the speed is safe on these roads,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “While studies so far have been inconclusive, we believe that PennDOT’s decision will be based on the best and safest use of state highways.”



PHIA Digest Vol. 34

July 27, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Early look at raising speed limits in Pennsylvania promising
Pennsylvania motorists who gravitate toward the left lane may have to wait a bit longer to learn whether state policymakers consider it safe to increase interstate speed limits to 70 mph.

A Penn State study of crash and speed data in pilot areas where the higher speeds have been in place for about year found no significant overall increases in speeds for cars or trucks, and that the percentage of vehicles going faster than the posted limit deceased by about a third.

License plate tags may continue to stick around in Pennsylvania
A plan to eliminate the tiny registration stickers that drivers must put on their license plates appears to be running into a police roadblock.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, hoping to modernize the renewal process and make it more consumer friendly, wants to stop sending out the stickers at the end of next year. Officials say the department would save money and drivers could renew online and print out their registrations without waiting for a card and sticker to arrive in the mail. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 33

July 20, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Federal Agencies Name Pennsylvania National Transportation Planning Excellence Award Winner
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today jointly announced the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) as one of this year’s eight Transportation Planning Excellence Award (TPEA) recipients.

“Building a world-class transportation system doesn’t happen overnight, and never by accident,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These awards recognize the critical role planning plays in meeting America’s future transportation challenges.”

Cameras, radars and bans: Committee weighs safe driving proposals for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania drivers may have a lot more restrictions on how they drive in the future as the Pennsylvania General Assembly considers legislation that aims to increase safety on the state’s roadways.

The Pa. House and Senate Transportation Committees met Tuesday for a joint hearing on a handful of proposed legislation that would directly impact drivers. Those proposals include banning handheld devices while driving, allowing local cops to use radar and installing cameras in workzone areas.

State reviews options for slowing work-zone traffic
Lead-footed drivers might want to flash a smile for the cameras as they cruise through work zones if the state follows through on plans to crack down on speeders.

Supporters say speed enforcement cameras are needed to protect highway workers and free up troopers to do things other than babysit construction sites.

PennDOT, Partners Host National, State Workers Memorials Honoring Fallen Employees
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike today joined the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC), and Flagger Force to honor lives lost in work zones across the country as the National Work Zone Memorial makes three stops in Pennsylvania.

Unveiled in April 2002, the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation’s National Work Zone Memorial and its “Respect and Remembrance: Reflections of Life on the Road” program is a living tribute to the memory of lives lost in work zones. The memorial is updated each year and travels to communities cross-country, year-round to raise public awareness of the need to respect and stay safe in America’s roadway work zones.

Slow Down: Bill would use cameras to nab speeders in highway work zones
Contractor Mike Hawbaker knows first-hand the kind of danger his crew faces when paving roads in work zones as cars and trucks whiz by.

One of his foremen was thrown 150 feet when a vehicle plowed into a work zone on Route 6 in Bradford County. She suffered a broken hip and fractured legs and has undergone 21 surgeries since the accident happened 21/2 years ago.

That’s why Hawbaker is supporting legislation that would place speed cameras in active work zones on the Turnpike and interstates in Pennsylvania for a five-year trial period.

Studies Continue Into 70 MPH Speed Limit Possibility In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania motorists who gravitate toward the left lane may have to wait a bit longer to learn whether state policymakers consider it safe to increase interstate speed limits to 70 mph.

A Penn State study of crash and speed data in pilot areas where the higher speeds have been in place for about year found no significant overall increases in speeds for either cars or trucks, and that the percentage of vehicles going faster than the posted limit actually deceased by about a third.



APC supports automated speed limit enforcement in work zones

July 14, 2015

safezone_signAPC’s Bob Latham was among numerous parties providing testimony before a joint House/Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday morning regarding a broad range of highway safety issues. Bob’s focus was on Senate Bill 840, a Sen. David Argall-sponsored measure that would authorize automated speed limit enforcement in work zones.

He cited the positive results of a similar program in Maryland in curtailing excessive speeding in work zones and said it would improve the level of safety for the traveling public, as well as construction workers. For a news release summarizing Bob’s testimony, click here.




PHIA News Digest – Vol. 32

July 13, 2015

PDSITELOGO2Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls to go up again
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today approved a 6 percent toll increase effective Jan. 3, the eighth consecutive year in which tolls will have risen.

The increase will apply to both cash customers and E-ZPass users but will leave in place a roughly 40 percent difference in electronically paid tolls and the higher-priced cash option.

Planned highway closure in 2016 draws business complaints
PennDOT says the work is necessary to prevent debris from falling from the rock slopes cut out of a mountain during the 1930s.

The department says the project will require the use of giant cranes that won’t leave room for traffic. It says the work will be done when the days are long so contractors can work longer.

Highway dilemma ignites new tax fight
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water Wednesday on a bipartisan plan to use revenue from tax reform to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, even as Republicans grope for a way to keep highway projects running this summer.

McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled plans to take up consideration of a highway funding bill as early as next week, less than three weeks before a July 31 deadline. But while McConnell gave few details on what Republicans would offer, he expressed deep skepticism that a new tax reform framework put forth by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds the solution.

McConnell, Ryan at odds over highway fix
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are at odds over how to extend highway funding past a looming July 31 deadline.

The two men can agree on this: A full six-year extension of highway projects won’t come together in the next few weeks — making some sort of short-term extension necessary — and Congress won’t raise the gas tax.

Pa. Turnpike looks to do away with toll collectors
The opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s first all-electronic toll facility in Bucks County in January will be the first step toward doing away with cash tolls – and toll collectors – all along the turnpike.

All-electronic tolling also is part of the long-delayed direct connection between the turnpike and I-95, now under construction.