PHIA News Digest – Vol. 68

March 28, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Pennsylvania’s lame laws against drunken driving (Opinion)
Pennsylvania is among a minority of states with lousy DUI laws, and repeatedly fails to adopt a law proven to reduce the mayhem that drunken driving causes.

This, despite the state’s own stats showing 20 people are injured and one person killed in alcohol-related crashes here every day. That’s every day.

John Gray: Freight trains help move Pennsylvania’s economy
The close relationship between Pennsylvania’s economy and freight railroads goes back to the early days of railroading. In 1834, for example, the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad opened as part of a network of rails and canals stretching hundreds of miles through Pennsylvania’s interior. In the 1800s, the Philadelphia & Reading Railway and Lehigh Valley Railroad hauled anthracite from the mines in northeastern Pennsylvania to Philadelphia and other major cities.

Pennsylvania Department Of Transportation Wins 2015 Perpetual Pavement Award
The Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA) has announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has won a 2015 Perpetual Pavement Award for a 3-mile section of  I-180 in Northumberland County.  This is the fifth year in a row that PennDOT has won a Perpetual Pavement Award.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Transportation says 70 mph speed limits will be coming to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and interstate highways in May
It probably won’t happen in more urban areas where the limit is now 55 mph instead of 65 mph. Generally, areas already posted 65 mph with mostly straight highway and few sharp curves will feature the new, higher speed limit.

Pumped up prices at the pump: Small towns, big hikes
Last month, the Courier Times reported that the U.S. price of gas had officially dropped below $2 per gallon for the first time in 12 years. This announcement was surely greeted happily — except by those of us in Newtown, where the local gas stations didn’t seem to get the same information.

Penn. Encourages Motorcyclists to Take Actions to Reduce Risk This Spring
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller is advising all drivers to be aware of motorcycles, as warmer weather means more motorcyclists on Pennsylvania roadways.

Miller is also encouraging motorcyclists to consider safety measures which can save lives, reduce injuries, and save money as well.



Turnpike community mourns workers Daniel Crouse and Ronald Heist

March 25, 2016

PTCMOURNINGOver the weekend, a Turnpike worker and an armed guard were killed by a gunman during an attempted robbery of a teller van at the Fort Littleton interchange.

The worker, Daniel Crouse, had been on the job for fewer than three months; the armed guard, Ronald Heist, was a retired local police officer.

According to authorities, the incident began around 7 a.m. when the assailant, identified as 55-year-old Clarence D. Briggs of Newville, confronted two employees working at a toll booth at the interchange. He displayed a handgun and forced them into a nearby office building, where he attempted to tie them up.

He shot one of the employees when they tried to escape and the security guard that had arrived in the van.  Briggs was fatally shot by state troopers responding to the scene. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 67

March 21, 2016

PDSITELOGO2PennDOT, PA police clash over infrastructure funds
“If this keeps going, we’re going to have trouble fixing potholes, let alone bridges,” House Transportation Committee Chairman John Taylor told the AP. The state police already uses $500 million a year in highway funds, and PennDOT projects the agency will need another $400 million per year after the next decade.

SEPTA, state look to partner with ride sharing
While the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the state legislature and ride hailing companies like UberX and Lyft hash out an arrangement to regulate their services in Philadelphia, the service is quietly becoming more and more engrained in how people get from one place to another.

The latest evidence of that is SEPTA’s study, initiated Wednesday, to determine how partnering with ride sharing companies could affect SEPTA, said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s general manager.

Pennsylvania Turnpike speed limit rising to 70 mph
Motorists will soon be able to legally drive a little faster on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has approved raising the speed limit to 70 mph on the statewide toll road.

When the change goes into effect later this spring, the speed limit on most of the toll road will be increased from the current 65 mph.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 66

March 14, 2016

PDSITELOGO2State police eating up big chunk of Pa. transportation budget

Call it Pennsylvania’s highway robbery.

A pot of money from a huge increase in fuel taxes and motorist fees under a 2013 law designed to shore up Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges is not so huge anymore, as a growing amount is getting diverted to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Now, alarmed transportation planners, construction firms and engineers are looking at 12-year Department of Transportation projections that show a fattening state police budget consuming more dollars meant for construction projects. Lawmakers are taking notice, too.

“I think people are shocked to find that what they voted for is going to the Pennsylvania State Police,” Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards said.



PennDOT lets $277 million in projects during February

March 8, 2016

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.