PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 9

February 28, 2022

Bridge tolls, package fees considered to replace lost Pa. gas tax revenue

A bridge tolling project that would add user fees to nine bridges across Pennsylvania raised some eyebrows at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, but the state Department of Transportation argued it’s a crucial way to fund bridge and road upgrades.

Key points from Senate budget hearings

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Wayne Langerholc (R-35) explored PennDOT’s plan to add tolls to nine interstate bridges through the Public-Private Partnership program. He urged further discussions on alternative means to fund bridge work.

SEPTA board approves program to promote safety on its system

SEPTA has approved a new program that will add guides to serve as ambassadors on the system.

Pa.’s first automated shuttle coming to the Philadelphia Navy Yard

Pennsylvania’s first automated vehicle shuttle is coming to Philadelphia this summer. The shuttle will provide visitors and employees with transportation services within the Philadelphia Navy Yard and to SEPTA’s NRG Station located at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

Pennsylvania hates potholes. See how much they complain about them

A study by Stacker utilizing data from Clunker Junker found that Pennsylvania is in the top 10 of states with the most pothole complaints.



The industry’s transportation funding needs explained

February 21, 2022

Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, unveiled last week, contained a bit of good news regarding transportation funding. Rather than gradually reducing the annual amounts of revenue diverted from the Motor License Fund to support State Police operations, the governor proposed to take the diverted amounts down to $500 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

It means that PennDOT would have around $140 million more available next fiscal year than it would with the more gradual rollback. While that is good news, it does not completely close the transportation funding gap that Pennsylvania now has.

Most readers of this newsletter are probably aware that Pennsylvania is slated to receive $4 billion in federal transportation funding over the next five years under the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Again, good news. However, Pennsylvania must provide a local match of 20% in order to leverage the entire $4 billion in federal money. The math is easy – that’s about $1 billion in new Pennsylvania money.

As reported here two weeks ago, APC and seven other transportation construction trade groups have called for Pennsylvania to halt all diversions from the Motor License Fund. It has proven too tempting and convenient to backfill General Fund operations, such as the State Police, with revenue that was originally intended for highway construction.

It is clear from APC’s annual polling that Pennsylvania voters strongly prefer that the revenue from fuel taxes and license and registration fees be used for its intended purpose, not for other things.

At its peak, the State Police diversion was just over $800 million, which added up to the equivalent of 12 cents a gallon – more than 20% of the nearly 60 cents per gallon in fuel taxes. At $500 million, it’s the equivalent of more than 8 cents per gallon, or 14% of the state fuel taxes.

Re-dedicating all of the Motor License Fund revenue for repairing and maintaining bridges and highways would cover the matching funds requirement to receive the federal money, allow for a modest bonding program, and get Pennsylvania back on track for addressing the Commonwealth’s transportation needs – without raising fuel taxes. And it would make Pennsylvania voters happy.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 8

February 21, 2022

Pa., Norfolk Southern negotiating 2nd daily Amtrak train between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg

Pennsylvania officials and Norfolk Southern are inching closer toward a deal to bring more passenger rail service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The agreement would put a second daily Amtrak train along the railroad between the cities.

Langerholc issues statement on increased passenger rail service in western Pa.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, issued a statement regarding the announcement on the Commonwealth’s plans to invest in freight and passenger rail in western Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the #8 state with the most pothole complaints

When you’ve got the second-worst bridge condition situation in the country, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, along with more than 50% of statewide roads not even maintained enough to call “fair,” naturally, a pothole problem is going to follow.

Buttigieg says Pittsburgh will play role in switch to electric vehicles

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says Pittsburgh can play a key role as America switches from gas-powered cars to cleaner electric vehicles in the next few years.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 7

February 15, 2022

PennDOT vows to make driving EVs more accessible

With Pennsylvania set to invest millions of federal and state dollars in electric vehicles over the next few years, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has vowed to make sure no one is left out.

Couple injured in Fern Hollow Bridge collapse to sue

A Penn Hills couple injured when Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed last month will sue Port Authority of Allegheny County, PennDOT and the City of Pittsburgh.

Infrastructure law gives state $171.5M for EV chargers

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Energy announced Thursday Pennsylvania is eligible for up to $171.5 million for projects related to electric vehicle (EV) charging under a new program started by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Centre officials approve fee for local use

As expected, the additional annual $5 fee for non-exempt vehicles registered in Centre County will remain in place for another five years.

First steps for demolition of Fern Hollow Bridge underway

Major work continues at the site of the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge, more than a week after it crumbled under a Port Authority bus and several other vehicles.

Committee approves Laughlin scooter legislation

Legislation seeking to ensure low-speed scooters are properly regulated within Pennsylvania’s vehicle code was reported to the full Senate out of the Senate Transportation Committee, according to the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 892, Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-49.

Sen. Flynn’s Turnpike reform bill passes Transportation Committee 

The Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee passed legislation introduced by Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) to update and improve the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s method of collecting and reporting on tolls.

NTSB report: Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge collapse started on Squirrel Hill side

The collapse of Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge likely started on the west, or Squirrel Hill, side of the span, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Monday.

Rep. Carroll not seeking re-election in 118th Legislative District

State Rep. Mike Carroll Friday announced he will not seek the Democratic nomination to serve the 118th Legislative District in the upcoming primary election.

Options to end Pennsylvania gas tax could cost you more

There are new proposals to reduce or eliminate Pennsylvania’s gas tax, which is one of the highest in the nation. But these alternatives could cost you more.

Pa. budget plan drops state police fee for towns, lowers reliance on infrastructure funds

Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022 budget makes good on plans to reduce State Police reliance on funds generally earmarked for highway construction, repair and safety by shifting the cost burden to the general fund.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 6

February 8, 2022

PA crash deaths spiked in 2021 amid pandemic

Dangerous driving habits developed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to make the nation’s highways more deadly in the first nine months of 2021, the government projected this week.

Industry associations call for end to shifting of road funds

ACPA/PA Chapter, ACEC/PA, APC, CAEP, CAWP, PACA, PAPA, and PennGCC once again are calling on Governor Wolf to permanently move the entire Motor License Fund portion of the State Police budget back to the General Fund. (FY 2023 – $641.39 million) and to use Motor Vehicle License Fund revenues to fund PennDOT’s pay-as-you-go capital program and/or as debt service retirement.

PennDOT discusses bridge safety, inspections after Pittsburgh collapse

Pennsylvania has the second-most bridges rated “poor” out of any state in the country. There are nearly 500 bridges in the Midstate are in that category and PennDOT says not to worry.

Wolf administration announces $246 million investment at Port of Philadelphia

Governor Tom Wolf today announced a $246 million state investment into the Port of Philadelphia to continue modernization efforts and improve regional economic stability. This funding builds upon the Governor’s comprehensive $300 million Capital Investment Program at the Port of Philadelphia announced in 2016.

Over $230 million coming to Pa. for public transportation projects

U.S Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced Friday morning over $230 million in funding for public transportation projects.

Safe, reliable, and affordable transit is the fastest route to an equitable society

Here in Pennsylvania, and across the country, transit riders, community organizations, environmental justice groups, and unions are spreading the message that public transit is not only foundational to our economies and communities, but is also a civil right.

Pennsylvania gas tax: Is the money going where it should?

Pennsylvania has one of the highest gas taxes in the country. It brings in billions of dollars a year, but there’s concern from the state that it’s not enough.

New Downingtown train station project gets 2025 start date

PennDOT will construct a new station about a quarter-mile south of Lancaster Avenue on Brandywine Avenue/Route 322. It will replace the existing West Lancaster Avenue station located about a half-mile to the west.

Container volumes surge at PhilaPort in 2021

In 2021, the port processed a total of 739,323 TEU, an increase of 15 per cent compared to 640,799 TEU in 2020. Both imports and exports grew significantly in the year, rising 16 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

PennDOT to reinspect bridges with similar design as Fern Hollow Bridge

PennDOT officials said Tuesday they plan to reinspect five bridges in Pennsylvania that have similar designs as the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh.

PennDOT will foot the bill to replace the Fern Hollow Bridge

Pennsylvania will pay $23.5 million to replace the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge, officials at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission announced Monday afternoon. Even as they welcomed the news, many noted that the process to fund needed infrastructure repairs has historically taken much longer, and shouldn’t.

Diversions and limits show Pa. needs more to fix bridges and roads than pricey gas tax

As the investigation continues into the collapse of the fern hollow bridge in Pittsburgh, it’s raising questions about how money has been raised and spent to support bridges and roads in Pennsylvania.

Bridge collapse highlights Pa.’s infrastructure problems

The state has more than 3,000 bridges in poor repair. Federal funds will provide significant support for tackling the problem, but Pennsylvania’s transportation and transit woes run deep.