PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 5

January 30, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Lone bidder for I-95 Scudder toll bridge approved; will borrow $475M

The $396 million bid by Trumbull Corp. of Pittsburgh, the only general contractor willing to replace the free I-95 Scudder Falls bridge with a twin toll bridge under conditions set by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, has been accepted by the commission.

The commission had hoped to build the bridge for $300 million to $325 million. Two nonunion general contractors told the Inquirer they felt they were discouraged from bidding because the commission is requiring a Project Labor Agreement binding builders to work with unions in case of work disputes.

As gas-tax profits decline, more states may turn to tolls

Tolls have been a fact of life in Indiana for at least 60 years, but state Rep. Edmond Soliday thinks there will have to be more of them if the state wants to keep its roads in good shape. Soliday, a Republican who chairs his chamber’s transportation committee, said the most expensive part of the state’s transportation network are the heavily trafficked interstates that are filled with out-of-state trucks.

Federal law, however, prevents states from tolling existing interstates without a waiver. So Soliday introduced an ambitious road-funding bill earlier this month that would instruct the Indiana Department of Transportation to apply for a federal waiver and to study how tolls could be added.

Pittsburgh tunnels are getting ‘enhanced cell service’

Entering a tunnel in Pittsburgh no longer means entering a black hole for cellphone service. PennDOT says a new antenna system will boost wireless coverage inside the Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill and Liberty tunnels.

How the Midwest could become a hub for advanced transportation

A new collection of transportation agencies and universities is taking one small step toward transforming the Rust Belt into a place associated with the future instead of the past. Eleven agencies and institutions located in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have formed the Smart Belt Coalition, which will spur joint efforts on the testing and deployment of autonomous and connected cars.

The collaboration comes on the heels of a legislative overhaul of Michigan regulations last month, which have been relaxed to spur the testing of self-driving technology on the state’s public roads. Ohio and Pennsylvania do not have laws on the books governing autonomous vehicles, but in their absence, both states have encouraged such tests.

Speed-detection cameras could be installed at construction zones to slow speeders

The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would establish a five-year pilot program of installing speed detection cameras in work zones on PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission highways.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 2, No. 4

January 24, 2017

PDSITELOGO2Delaware River turnpike bridge between Pa., N.J. will be closed at least 2 weeks

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s preliminary evaluation of a fracture discovered Friday on the bridge that carries Interstate 276 over the Delaware River has determined the need for a continued closure for an indefinite period of time.

Construction is now taking place to stabilize the bridge while engineers engage in a more comprehensive assessment and structural analysis necessary to determine a permanent repair plan, according to a press release.

Pittsburgh, Penn State chosen as national autonomous vehicle testing sites

Expect to see even more autonomous vehicles driving around Pennsylvania in the coming months. The federal Department of Transportation accepted PennDOT’s request to make Pennsylvania a National Proving Ground — testing site — for Autonomous Vehicle Technologies on January 19, one month after PennDOT submitted their application.

According to a press release, the DOT chose the 10 sites out of 60 applicants based on each site’s ability to manage various roadway states, safety conditions and types of vehicles.

Feds give Pa. an extension on identity card security upgrades

Thanks to an extension granted by the federal Department of Homeland Security, Pennsylvania has been given until early June to show compliance with “REAL ID” security upgrades.

The extension forestalls – to the great good fortune of event planners, delivery truck drivers and anyone else headed for federal offices, courthouses or military bases – the federal government’s refusal to recognize Pennsylvania driver’s licenses as a valid form of identification. Read more


The times they are a-changin’

January 18, 2017

Although we are and always have been the Pa. Highway Information Association, we tend to take a broad view of transportation, thinking of it as a single, integrated, multi-modal system of mobility.

MOVINGFORWARDThis month, Governing Magazine published an insightful article titled, “Urban Transportation’s Multimodal Future,” in which author Bob Graves asserts the following:

“The future, more and more urban transportation experts are coming to believe, lies in mobility-friendly networks in which cars are just one element – and an ever-shrinking one as we move from a system in which the personally owned vehicle is king and toward a multimodal future of on-demand driverless vehicles, ride-sharing, expanded public transit, greater reliance on human-powered transportation and other alternatives.”

Like us, he’s watching intently as our friends at PennDOT and Carnegie Mellon University, along with others across the country, push forward with autonomous vehicle technology. And he’s right – it will transform mobility and our cities as significantly as the personal automobile and the Interstate Highway System did in the last century.

As with any transformative change, there will be some resistance to it and challenges to overcome, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that a change is surely coming.

To read the entire Governing article, click here.


Facts & Figures

Calculating the Oil Company Franchise Tax **NEW**

January 17, 2017

State Law requires the Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT) to be calculated and certified annually by the state Department of Revenue.The rate is determined annually by the department and announced by each December 15 for the following calendar year. The tax rate is determined on a “cents per gallon equivalent basis,” which is defined in law.As of November 25, 2013, the law changed to eliminate the inflationary cap on the OCFT and the fixed 12¢ per gallon retail fuel tax. Read more