Court halts major bridge initiative; PennDOT appeals

May 25, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, News 

A Commonwealth Court judge issued an injunction last week that temporarily blocks PennDOT from proceeding with plans to restore or replace nine major bridges and pay for the initiative by tolling the bridges.

Judge Ellen Ceisler ordered the halt, ordering PennDOT to stop all studies, right-of-way acquisitions, construction or work under any contracts, and put off any planned hearings, meetings or spending, pending the resolution of a related lawsuit.

The tolls were opposed by Cumberland County and seven municipalities, which contended that the process was illegal and unconstitutional. PennDOT quickly filed an appeal.

Judge Ceisler said the Public-Private Partnership Board “essentially approved a massive multi-billion-dollar infrastructure initiative on an admittedly meager record, consisting of a four-page recommendation from (PennDOT), a presentation, and minimal discussion, and without understanding which, or how many, pieces of public infrastructure the initiative would affect.”

The nine bridges being considered are the Interstate 83 span over the Susquehanna River between Dauphin and Cumberland counties; I-78′s Lenhartsville Bridge in Berks County; I-79′s bridges over State Route 50 in Allegheny County; I-80′s bridges across Canoe Creek in Clarion County, Nescopeck Creek in Luzerne County, North Fork in Jefferson County and the Lehigh River, near Wilkes-Barre; I-81 over the Susquehanna River in northern Pennsylvania; and the Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 21

May 23, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
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Fern Hollow Bridge report shows deterioration months before collapse

An inspection report of the Fern Hollow Bridge shows it was suffering widespread decay just four months before it collapsed.

PA judge halts bridge tolling plans, for now

A judge has ordered a temporary halt to Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll as many as nine major bridges on interstates in Pennsylvania, siding Wednesday with Cumberland County and a handful of municipalities that are challenging the process as both illegal and unconstitutional.

How to bring bike lanes to southeastern PA

The Bicycle Friendly Resurfacing Program is an effort between the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and PennDOT with the goal of identifying roads in the four suburban counties in the southeastern Pennsylvania area that are good candidates for bicycle facilities before the resurfacing process begins.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 20

May 18, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 20
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Northern CSVT will be open to traffic in July; work on southern section to start Monday

Ted Deptula, the assistant construction engineer for PennDOT District 3-0, and Matt Beck, a PennDOT assistant plans engineer, updated members of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee via Zoom on Friday. The first contract for the southern section was also awarded this week, and work is expected to begin on Monday.

PennDOT Announces 2021 statewide traffic fatalities

Pennsylvania roadway deaths were up about 9% in 2021. This increase is in line with a recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, projecting a national increase of approximately 12% in the first nine months of 2021.

Construction starts at site of collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge

Construction is now underway at the site of the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge, welcome news to businesses in the area.

Tolling plan dropped for 1 side of I-78 bridge after community input

Community input was part of the reason plans for the I-78 bridge were changed from tolling in both directions, to tolling now only being pursued for westbound traffic, PennDOT said.

PennDOT to host public hearing on I-83 bridge tolling plan

The public hearing is scheduled to take place both in Cumberland and Dauphin counties, with the Cumberland County hearing scheduled for 3:30 to 7 p.m. May 25, at Penn Harris Hotel, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill. The Dauphin County hearing is scheduled for the next day at Hilton Garden Inn-Harrisburg East, 3943 Tecport Drive, Harrisburg.

PennDOT announces the completion of the 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan

PennDOT announced the 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan to establish the priorities and critical transportation strategies to guide Pennsylvania’s project investments.

Diesel in PA among highest in the country, at $6.22 per gallon

The average price of diesel fuel in Pennsylvania is nearly seventy cents more per gallon than the national average, according to AAA.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 19

May 9, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 19
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Pa. takes baby steps away from gas tax, toward fee for miles driven

Following a slowly growing national movement, Pennsylvania may be ready to try the idea of charging drivers a mileage-based fee to make up millions in transportation revenue lost to more fuel-efficient hybrid and electric cars.

Biofuels industry still waiting on subsidies to compete with oil, gas, electric vehicles

The biofuel industry could dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions from cars and improve air quality, but the effects of the pandemic and government subsidies for green competitors like electric vehicles makes future growth a tough road ahead.

Norman Mineta, transportation secretary in 9/11 era, dies

Norman Mineta, who broke racial barriers for Asian Americans serving in high-profile government posts and ordered commercial flights grounded after the 9/11 terror attacks as the nation’s federal transportation secretary, died Tuesday. He was 90.

One year from full implementation, nearly 7M Pennsylvanians without REAL ID

With a year before the federal government enforces its REAL ID requirements, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is encouraging state residents to update their driver’s licenses and photo ID. When federal enforcement starts on May 3, 2023, only REAL ID-compliant documents will be accepted at airports, federal buildings, and for other federal purposes. If someone doesn’t update their driver’s license, they would need to use a passport, for example, to take a domestic flight.

Bus video gives more info about Pittsburgh bridge collapse

Video footage from a bus of the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh this year shows one end of the structure had already fallen when an expansion joint at the other end was pulling apart, federal investigators said Thursday.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 18

May 2, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 18
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Corman vows to undo plans to toll bridges to fund repairs

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jake Corman pushed back on the Wolf administration’s plans to toll nine bridges across the state and called on the governor to halt the process, while also promising to undo the process if he is elected.

Officials want to make sure drivers pay for Turnpike trips

Officials with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, along with lawmakers, are working to reduce leakage on the Turnpike. The term leakage refers to transactions, or toll rides, that generate no revenue.

Worst commutes in Pennsylvania

Commuting easily ranks as one of the least enjoyable parts of a person’s day. Commuters encounter more physical health problems, and low-income commuters are less likely to gain financial stability—among a host of other negative impacts.

Fight to put a halt to tolling I-83/South Bridge gets day in court

A group of county and municipal officials objecting to the proposed tolling of the I-83/South Bridge took their case to court on Monday to try to at least get a temporary halt to that project.

Learn how Pa. plans to spend federal money on new charging corridors

Pennsylvania was already working on electric vehicle charging corridors before the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed, and now the public can hear the state’s plans and weigh in on them.

 

Plans for electric vehicle charging in PA

April 29, 2022 by · Comments Off on Plans for electric vehicle charging in PA
Filed under: Featured, News 

Even before the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed, Pennsylvania was already identifying electric vehicle charging corridors. The law provides for $7.5 billion to expand the EV charging network across the country.

Pennsylvania’s share of that will be $171.5 million for charging infrastructure, along with access to $2.5 billion in discretionary grant funding for all alternative fueling infrastructure.

As global vehicle manufacturers advance their plans to transition to EVs, the market for them will grow quickly. PennDOT held a webinar recently to provide an update on where things stand. PennDOT noted that in March 2019, there were 9,700 registered electric vehicles, and now there are 23,000.

More details from the webinar can be found at this link.

Also on the state’s to-do list is to establish a fee structure for EVs, which at present do not contribute to the restoration and upkeep of our bridge and highway infrastructure. We are hopeful that a fee structure will be addressed before the General Assembly breaks for the summer.

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 17

April 25, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 17
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What the latest U.N. climate report says about transportation

1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s the increase in the Earth’s temperature that scientists have set as the outer limit before climate change starts to radically affect human societies. The UN’s latest report on climate change issued this week found governments aren’t doing nearly enough to avoid this fate.

Route 219 Maryland to Meyersdale connection gets $53 million boost

The Route 219 extension from Meyersdale to Maryland was almost off the table — until $53 million was acquired for pre-construction costs Wednesday.

Gov. Wolf announces 64 transportation projects in 34 counties

Governor Tom Wolf and PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian today announced the approval of funding for 64 projects to improve transportation alternatives and enhance mobility and public accessibility across the state, 43 of which are funded through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

The legislative push to cut PA’s gas tax

According to AAA, the average price per gallon of gas in Pennsylvania is down about 20 cents in the last month. However, the state’s gas tax is still one of the highest in the country.

What to consider before taking off your mask on public transit or planes

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear masks while on public transportation or airplanes. To add to the confusion, some local transit authorities (like the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia) have changed their mask mandates after the ruling while others (like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City) have kept them intact.

National electric vehicle network channels $25 million to PA infrastructure

In February, President Biden unveiled a $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, a plan that would place charging stations along major interstates, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Now, Pennsylvania leaders are discussing implementation and funding for the network in the state.

SEPTA to pay $9.75 million for property for new Conshohocken train station

On the April 28th agenda for SEPTA’s board is a resolution to authorize the purchase of 6.5 acres on Conshohocken riverfront to construct the new train station and a parking garage. The cost of the property is $9.75 million. In the resolution, the parking garage is stated to be “proposed.”

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 16

April 18, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 16
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State legislation would provide $200M for road, bridge infrastructure

Legislation recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would provide an additional $200 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year for road and bridge projects.

No P3 Bridge Tolling Coalition hosts event to discuss progress against PennDOT’s plan

The Clarion Chamber of Commerce hosted a press conference for the local organizations participating in the No P3 Bridge Tolling Coalition, an organization taking a closer look at PennDOT’s major bridge public-private partnership initiative and the legality of its implementation.

Protected bike lanes deliver numerous benefits, study says

Advocates in Philadelphia are pushing state lawmakers to finally pass a law to make it easier to install protected bike lanes on state routes.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 15

April 12, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 15
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Reps. Meijer, Davis introduce responsible infrastructure spending legislation

U.S. Reps. Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced legislation last week to ensure accountability and oversight of infrastructure spending authorized through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, otherwise known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

CEO: Turnpike editorial wrong on transparency

The Sentinel’s April 2 editorial regarding Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission efforts to operate transparently was just plain wrong (Pennsylvania Turnpike needs more transparency from its officials). To insinuate that PA Turnpike leaders chose to be less than transparent is inaccurate as well as unfair.

PA’s governor candidates feud over how to reduce pain at pump

The details differ, but both Democrat Josh Shapiro, the only candidate on the ballot for his party, and a number of the leading GOP candidates all have offered plans to temporarily or permanently reduce the hit of elevated prices on motorists’ wallets.

American Airlines buses? Airline to offer ground connections

Transportation service Landline will provide 50-to-70-mile rides to and from airports in Allentown/Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Pa. public transportation projects receive more than $617M in federal funding

The Federal Transit Administration recently awarded public transportation projects in Pennsylvania more than $617.5 million allocated through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

PennDOT, Amtrak restoring Keystone Service

With help from PennDOT, Amtrak on April 25 will be adding two additional trains to the Keystone Service Line, which operates between Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York in response to increase demand.

National Work Zone Awareness Week begins Monday

PennDOT, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Associated Pennsylvania Constructors hosted a recent event urging motorists to slow down and pay attention in work zones ahead of National Work Zone Awareness Week. The week runs April 11-15, and is designated to highlight the critical importance of safe driving through work zones.

 

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 14

April 4, 2022 by · Comments Off on PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 14
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Revenue Department releases March 2022 collections

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $239.7 million for the month, $19.4 million above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund – which include the commonly known gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues – total $2.1 billion, which is $55.6 million, or 2.7 percent, above estimate.

There’s growing urgency for passenger rail projects to move at high speed

With billions in new federal funding available, advocates see a narrow window to deliver new lines, faster trains and other ambitious upgrades. But there are plenty of difficulties that could throw their plans off the tracks.

Bids opened for first contract of CSVT southern section

Work on southern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway is a big step closer to getting underway. PennDOT announced Friday bids were opened for the first contracts involving the southern section of the new highway.

PennDOT accepting unsolicited P-3 proposals until April 30

PennDOT’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships announced that it is accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through April 30.

Pa.’s most traveled bridge that doesn’t meet safety standards

Of the bridges in poor or worse condition in the state, the bridge on Interstate 95 over Fraley Street in Philadelphia County — built in 1967 — carries the largest number of commuters and travelers, with an estimated 202,857 daily crossings on average.

State House committee passes bill pushing for EZ-Pass transparency

The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee voted unanimously Tuesday on a bill that would push for more transparency for E-ZPass holders.

 

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