News

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 5

January 28, 2019

Road salt use creates environmental worries

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation still relies on a steady diet of salt to de-ice state roads and highways. But in some other states, including neighboring New Jersey, products like beet juice and cheese brine are being used to keep drivers safe and roads away from salt.

PennDOT Connects program aims to improve transportation planning

PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards announced that project-planning collaboration and outreach with more than 750 municipalities is complete on more than 1,850 projects through the department’s PennDOT Connects transportation planning process.

King of Prussia rail project reaches two milestones

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Board has approved a contract to advance further engineering of the KOP Rail extension of the Norristown High Speed Line.

State troopers issue nearly 1,000 citations for driving during snow storm

Pennsylvania State Police issued nearly 1,000 citations to commercial drivers who were stopped on Pennsylvania highways during this weekend’s storms.

OPINION | The bus system of the future

Indianapolis is rethinking its approach, seeking new efficiencies that will better serve those from disadvantaged communities.

 

News

Heads-up. Autonomous vehicles are about to get real

January 28, 2019

It appears that the first incarnation of autonomous vehicles could arrive as soon as this spring. An article in Pittsburgh’s The Incline notes that platooning of tractor-trailers, buses and military vehicles could beat all other autonomous applications to the punch.

In October, Pennsylvania passed legislation that would allow up to three of those aforementioned vehicles to connect wirelessly and hit the road, with only one driver controlling the platoon. PennDOT is hashing out processes and protocols to support the practice, including where, when and how platoons will operate.

Platooning vehicles will be safer, save fuel and take up less highway space, according to a Carnegie Mellon University professor/AV expert. And with nationwide concerns about commercial driver shortages, it becomes clear why there is interest in platooning as a solution.

“Having closely followed the development of AV technology, and recognizing the benefits of improved safety and fuel efficiency, many of us at PHIA are supportive and excited to see the platooning efforts advance,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “In some ways, this technology will have the same level of life-changing impacts as computers, digital communication and smart phones.”

To read the entire article, click here.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 4

January 23, 2019

Pa. Turnpike considers public-private partnership to upgrade five tunnels

Over the next six weeks, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will try to decide whether to rehabilitate its five sets of tunnels one at a time over 10 to 15 years or enter into a public-private partnership with one firm that would do all of the work in five to six years and be responsible for maintenance for about 30 years.

Will there ever be high-speed rail service between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia?

If you’ve ever taken a train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, or vice versa, there are plenty of adjectives you might use to describe the experience. High-speed probably isn’t one of them.

Coming soon to Pa. roads: Autonomous trains of semi trucks

State lawmakers have yet to agree on legislation governing the testing of self-driving vehicles but passed a bill in October that will allow for platooning of up to three automated buses, military vehicles or tractor-trailers on some highways and interstates starting this spring.

PennDOT secretary named to Transportation Research Board committee

Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards was recently named vice chairwoman of the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee, the senior policy body of TRB.

Why this is the year to begin addressing the infrastructure deficit

With signs pointing to a weakening economy, we need to get ready now, and we need to do it right.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 3

January 14, 2019

Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project clears major hurdle

A decision by the Federal Highway Administration announced Friday allows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to begin final design on a two-mile stretch of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway in Snyder County.

Traffic deaths on Roosevelt Blvd spiked in 2018. A safety fix may not be in place until the fall.

Roosevelt Boulevard had one of its deadliest years in recent history in 2018.

Bradford County landslide clearing underway

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is working with a contractor to jump-start work to clear a landslide that has closed a portion of Route 414 in Bradford County since early December.

The Keystone State may have found the key to the next wave of transportation electrification

Pennsylvania’s combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among a broad array of stakeholders may show how to move the EV market into its next phase of development.

Widening I-81 in Pennsylvania: Plan shows worth, but dollars needed

Even if the $2.9 billion the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation now estimates it will take to expand about 82 miles of the highway appeared tomorrow, it would be at least 2030 until work begins, said Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

Is chaos ahead for transportation funding in Pa.?

A nasty storm could be brewing for Pennsylvania’s transportation funding regimen, says a scholar at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. Read more

News

Capital Beltway tabbed for major improvements

January 10, 2019

Those who commute on Harrisburg’s Capital Beltway received good news as we rang in the new year, with PennDOT announcing a couple of big-ticket projects involving Interstates 83 and 81 and Route 581.

Plans call for widening I-83 to 12 lanes – six in each direction – between Paxton and Second streets. A new interchange would be built at Cameron Street, and the 13th and Paxton street interchanges would be eliminated.

PennDOT said the goals are to relieve congestion and improve safety.  Officials estimate the cost at $700 million, and the work would be done between 2022 and 2030, although preliminary engineering has already begun.

The I-81 work would turn most of the 89-mile stretch between the Maryland line and I-78 into a six-lane highway. The traffic volume along the I-81 corridor is significantly greater than what it was designed to handle, and it is projected to continue to increase.

“The I-83 project is farther along than the I-81 project,” noted PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner, “and it’s not clear yet where the money for I-81 will come from and when.  PennDOT said it’s hoping for federal funding, but policymakers in Washington still haven’t addressed funding needs.”