PHIA News Digest – Vol. 72

April 25, 2016

PDSITELOGO2DOT Awards $22.5 Million in Grants for Clean Buses, Infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced seven project selections for the Low- and No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, known as Low-No. The seven transit providers in five states will receive a share of $22.5 million toward transit buses and related facilities that utilize battery-electric, fuel cell and other innovative technologies to reduce harmful greenhouse-gas emissions and improve operating efficiency.


PennDOT forays into cutting-edge tech

This weekend’s profile of Leslie Richards, the state’s Secretary of Transportation, focused on her interest in finding ways technology can improve transportation in the state. There are things PennDOT is exploring that I thought were worth highlighting here.

We talked about ride sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft, and Richards said she was interested in finding ways to partner with them to help provide state services. PennDOT is exploring the possibility of offering a grocery delivery service for the elderly and disabled. Contracting a ride sharing business to provide that service might end up being cheaper than having it done by government directly, she said.



Pennsylvania Records Second Lowest Year of Traffic Deaths in 2015

April 20, 2016

Grunge state of Pennsylvania flag mapPennsylvania saw 1,200 traffic fatalities on its roads in 2015, the second lowest rate of any year since 1928.  The lowest rate of traffic fatalities was set in 2014, with 1,195 on Pennsylvanian roads and highways.

PennDOT maintains statistics on the types of crashes, and 2015 also saw significant decreases in traffic fatalities involving older drivers, aggressive drives and accidents at intersections. Unfortunately, there were increases in other types of accidents, including single-vehicles running off the road, and fixed object crashes.

Overall, the two-year streak of low traffic fatalities comes after PennDOT invested nearly $50 million for safety improvements in the last five years. These efforts have taken shape in the form of rumble strips, improved signage, pavement markings and updated road delineators. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 71

April 18, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Study: Raised speed limits have increased traffic deaths
PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission say they intend to proceed with increasing the speed limit on some state roads to 70 mph next month despite a study released Tuesday that shows a substantial increase in traffic deaths in other states where the limit went up.

This unexpected city might lead the way with driverless cars
When considering what cities are most likely to get autonomous transportation off the ground, several other finalists on that list stand out, like Austin, Texas, a testing site for Google’s driverless cars, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to Uber’s driverless car efforts.

Pa. transportation chief not just one of the guys
Bring up self-driving cars and Pennsylvania’s transportation secretary gets enthusiastic.

Leslie Richards is just as excited about using apps to understand traffic, installing smart signs to shrink gridlock, or getting rid of registration stickers.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 70

April 11, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Pa. Turnpike on blizzard: We’ll get better at weather
While admitting no missteps in its storm planning, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission on Tuesday pledged to improve its weather-forecasting capacity after coming under fire for its response to a January blizzard that stranded hundreds of motorists for 24 hours.

The recommendation came in a 30-page “After Action Report” that summarized what commission officials had billed as its comprehensive, 10-week internal review of how it handled the storm.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Selects Michael Baker International to Improve I-90 Corridor in Erie County
Michael Baker International, a global leader in engineering, planning and consulting services, is playing a critical role in improvements to a seven-mile stretch of I-90 in Erie County, Pa., part of the longest interstate highway in the nation. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation selected the firm to develop preliminary engineering, environmental, geotechnical and final design plans for the project, which is aimed at increasing safety and efficiency for the 20,000 vehicles that use the roadway daily.

Road deaths in Pennsylvania near record low
There were 1,200 traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2015, the second-lowest since record-keeping began in 1928 and five more than the record low in 2014.

“We and our safety partners continue to work on infrastructure improvements, as well as promoting the use of education, enforcement and outreach in efforts to influence driver behavior and drive down crash and fatality numbers,“ said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “We strive to meet the national vision of Zero Fatalities knowing that transportation impacts Pennsylvanians daily. We urge the motoring public to be aware of their driving behavior by observing traffic laws, paying attention and using caution.”



Turnpike speed limits to increase to 70 mph

April 6, 2016

70mph2-1Following an 18-month pilot project, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has voted to increase the speed limit on most of the toll road to 70 miles per hour.

The decision will become effective when new speed limit signs are installed.

The pilot project, launched in 2014, involved a 100-mile stretch of the Turnpike from Morgantown to Blue Mountain. The study determined that there was little or no change in the average speed or in collision rates. The 55 mph speed limit in urban areas will remain, and lower speed limits will be posted in work zones as well.

PennDOT is considering raising the speed limit on other highways, including I-80 and I-380. Portions of those highways were part of another pilot program testing a 70 mph limit.

“Our first priority at PHIA is motorist, passenger, and highway worker safety,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We are encouraged that the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT believe the increase will allow everyone to continue to travel safely.”