PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 30

July 29, 2019

Study: Half of teens who die in Pa. crashes aren’t wearing a seat belt

More than half of teens who died in crashes in 2016 were not wearing a seat belt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says seat belt use is the most important factor in preventing death.

Pennsylvania needs a transportation-funding fix

Pennsylvania gets a big chunk of its transportation money from the feds. The feds want more of that cash to go the 1,300 miles of interstate highways in Pennsylvania. That means less for state roads and bridges.

Inclined Plane rehab grinds to halt; turnpike lawsuit delays state grant

A major rehabilitation of the Johnstown Inclined Plane has been put on hold by a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Pennsylvania Turnpike using technology to clear accident scenes quicker

In the year since the turnpike began using the app, the turnpike has seen the average delay for accidents and other incidents reduced from an hour and 46 minutes to 1:18.

4 drivers rack up more than $21,000 in unpaid tolls on Turnpike

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is continuing to crack down on toll cheats. Authorities have charged four more drivers with theft for repeatedly dodging tolls at Pennsylvania Turnpike entrances in Bucks County.

$380 million in PennDOT funding cuts could triple the amount of time to complete roadwork

PennDOT is cutting the region’s transportation funding by $380 million over the next 12 years.


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PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 29

July 24, 2019

Ever-rising turnpike tax

This is the 12th consecutive year of toll increases and, this time, it is 6% across the board for E-ZPass and cash customers alike.

Mid-year update on PennDOT road and bridge construction progress

Through June 30, PennDOT crews have improved more than 800 miles of roadway and rehabilitated or replaced 27 bridges statewide this year. In the same timeframe, 372 construction contracts for highway, bridge, and other improvement projects were issued statewide to PennDOT’s private-sector partners.

Wilkes-Barre interested in Philly rail service

The city is interested in starting passenger rail service to Philadelphia to boost economic development and improve the quality of life in the region.

Gas tax drop has state looking for answers

The Motor License Fund — which includes gas tax and revenue from license renewals and fees — ended 2018-19 almost $58 million below what the state had projected for the year, according to the Department of Revenue.

Officials tested how many drivers respected pedestrians in crosswalks in Bethlehem

The law gives the right-of-way to pedestrians in these cases; drivers need to wait for pedestrians to pass in front of them before moving along. But they frequently don’t.

Pa. Turnpike tolls to rise 6 percent in 2020

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a 6% increase at a meeting Tuesday. The toll increases apply to E-ZPass, cash and Toll-By-Plate passenger and commercial systems across the entire turnpike. In most places on the turnpike system, the new rates will go into effect in January 2020.



Fuel-tax drop reflects need for funding solutions

July 19, 2019

John Finnerty, who covers the Statehouse for newspapers in Johnstown, Meadville, New Castle, Sharon and Sunbury, dug up an interesting story recently noting that Motor License Fund revenue fell $58 million short of projections in the recently ended fiscal year.

While the percentage of the shortfall is relatively small, it portends a growing threat to highway funding in Pennsylvania. As fuel efficiency continues to improve, and demand for alternative fuel vehicles grows, our reliance on a consumption tax presents challenges.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Rep. Mike Carroll, of Luzerne County, Democratic chair of the House Transportation Committee, has introduced a bill that would establish an annual fee for entirely electric vehicles. The bill advanced through the transportation panel with overwhelming support and awaits a full House vote and Senate consideration this fall.

While EVs are supposed to pay an alternative fuel tax to make up for the revenue lost by avoiding a gasoline or diesel tax, the procedure is cumbersome, and many EV owners are probably not even aware of the requirement. The Carroll bill would eliminate the alternative fuel tax and replace it with the annual fee.

There are other issues that need to be resolved, such as how to make sure that hybrid owners, who pay some fuel taxes, pay their fair share for road maintenance and repair. Perhaps they will be asked to pay a smaller fee than EV owners.

Representative Carroll believes the ultimate answer will be a mileage-based fee, which would most closely align the cost of highway maintenance with the responsibility for wear and tear.

To read Finnerty’s entire article, click here.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 4, No. 27

July 1, 2019

Daunting task: Building the Southern Beltway’s interchange underneath I-79

For the first 11 miles of construction of the Southern Beltway, the concept has been pretty much the same: knock down hills, fill in valleys and create a flat surface for the new 13-mile toll road on the Allegheny-Washington County border.

Pennsylvania resolution urges federal government to make infrastructure a priority

The Pennsylvania state House recently advanced a resolution that urges the federal government to make the resiliency of the country’s infrastructure a priority.

11 things you need to know before getting a Real ID in Pennsylvania

Residents who want Pennsylvania’s federally compliant ID cards are required to provide a slew of paperwork and information when they apply.

Pennsylvania highway deaths slightly increased last year, despite national dip

Early estimates show 36,750 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationally in 2018, a roughly 1% year-over-year decrease, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As Trump and Congress consider infrastructure funding, road builders call for more federal dollars

Dave Bauer, the CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, says the Trump administration and Congress need to pitch in to help states accomplish their transportation goals.