PHIA News Digest – Vol. 64

February 29, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Editorial: Prioritize infrastructure in Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Wolf says one of the priorities of his first term is to reduce the number of structurally deficit bridges in the commonwealth, which remain, as one engineer said, the “800-pound gorilla” no one wants to talk about in Harrisburg.

While Pennsylvania has repaired nearly 2,000 bridges once tagged structurally deficient, the state still lags far behind others. This comes despite, as motorists well know, the nation’s highest gasoline tax, expected to be diverted to infrastructure.

PennDOT study touts transportation regionalization
Counties in the Midstate could save nearly $2.3 million a year through regionalization of their respective public transportation systems, according to a new study released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The study states that Adams, York, Cumberland, Perry, Franklin, Dauphin and Lebanon counties would combine to save more than $2 million annually in administrative and reduced local match payments if they were to join their public transportation systems.



PennDOT starts 2016 with $217 million in projects bid

February 24, 2016

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.



PennDOT, State Police & PHIA Observe State Highway Safety Law Awareness Week

February 23, 2016

This week is Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Law Awareness Week, and PHIA joins PennDOT and State Police in encouraging motorists to pay special attention to the laws of the road.

State Police and PennDOT highlighted the following list of oft-ignored laws:

  • The “4-Foot Bicycle Law” requires drivers to pass a bicycle at a distance of “not less than four feet” at a careful and prudent speed. The law also permits drivers to cross the center line during this process if safely able to do so.
  • No turn by a driver should interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight.
  • Driving around or through traffic control devices closing a road or highway could result in a $250 fine and two points on a driving record.
  • The “Teen Seat Belt Law” requires drivers and passengers younger than 18 to wear a seat belt anywhere in the vehicle. Also, drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle where the number of passengers exceeds the number of available seat belts.
  • “Increased fines in work zones” signage urges motorists to be aware when passing through work zones. Violating the posted speed limit by more than five miles per hour could result in doubled fines. The fine is based on how far over the speed limit the vehicle was traveling.
  • A recent amendment to the work zone law also states that any driver who causes serious bodily injury within a work zone is subject to $5,000 in fines and a six-month license suspension. A driver causing a death within a work zone could face a $10,000 fine and one-year license suspension.

“Highway safety is one of the biggest priorities of the highway industry,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Unfortunately, drivers are sometimes unaware of laws or ignore them. This week serves as a positive reminder for these rules.”



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 63

February 22, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Governors of 17 states including Pennsylvania announce clean energy, transportation agreement
Governors from 17 states, including Pennsylvania, said Tuesday that they will work together to develop cleaner energy and transportation as they look to lead a national shift to renewable fuels.

The states vary widely in their approach and sources of fuel, but the bipartisan group said its goal is to cooperate on planning and policies.

DEP Offers Grants to Support Alternative Fuel Transportation Projects in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is encouraging Pennsylvanian business and community leaders to be better caretakers of the environment by offering incentives for the purchase and use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles. DEP’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program offers funding for innovative, advanced fuel and vehicle technology projects for cleaner alternative transportation within the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Facing Transportation Funding Shortfall
Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards dropped a bit of a bombshell on the state’s transportation world when she announced that her department was facing a shortfall of at least $6 billion. Richards, who took office in May 2015, testified before the state Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 2 that while the previous administration had projected $34.9 million in funding over the state’s mandated 12-year plan (2015-2026), there was less than $29 billion. She has to update the plan in August as chairwoman of the 15-member Pennsylvania Transportation Commission.

2,000 bridge fixes later, PA is still second worst in country
Pennsylvania has fixed about 2,000 bridges that were once considered structurally deficient, but the state’s crumbling spans are in worse shape than those in almost all other states.

Pennsylvania is second worst both in number of structurally deficient bridges and in the percentage of bridges in need of repairs, according to an analysis released Thursday by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Why our region’s D-graded infrastructure threatens the economy
Pa.’s decrepit infrastructure can be narrowed down to two categories: transportation and water.



Highway Community Mourns Former PA Highway Secretary and PHIA President Bartlett

February 11, 2016

BartlettFormer Pennsylvania Highway Secretary Robert G. Bartlett, who led the Pennsylvania Highway Department under Governors Scranton and Shafer and was PHIA president from 1980 to 1986, passed away last week.

Bob was born in 1931 and graduated in 1953 from West Point with a BS in engineering. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Korea and had various postings in the U.S. until retiring from active duty as a captain in 1957.

He then worked as an engineer and labor relations specialist with Bethlehem Steel, and became Secretary of Highways while Pennsylvania was building the Interstate System. He served as PHIA president while he was executive vice president of L.B. Smith Inc. in Camp Hill.  He also received PHIA’s highest honor–The Transportation Advocate of the Year Award–in 1986.

“Secretary Bartlett was a terrific advocate for the highway industry in Pennsylvania, and our highway department was recognized as a national model under his leadership,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”