PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 6

February 11, 2020

Feds break from policy, allow self-driving vehicle to bypass human-driver safety rule

For the first time, the U.S. government’s highway safety agency has approved a company’s request to deploy a self-driving vehicle that doesn’t need to meet the same federal safety standards for cars and trucks driven by humans.

Pennsylvania State Police sees decline in seatbelt use

According to state police, there were two fatal single-vehicle crashes last week, both of which involved people not wearing their seat belts.

Report: Sign advised lower speed in snowy turnpike bus crash

Light snow was falling during a bus crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that killed five people last month, and the bus had just passed a sign warning to keep below 55 mph (89 kph) on a curve, according to a preliminary investigative report released Thursday.

PennDOT to shift $3.15 billion from local roads to interstate improvements

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will shift $3.15 billion from local road projects to improvements on the interstate highways over the next nine years, a decision that has district officials scrambling to adjust their local maintenance plans to eliminate needed projects they can’t pay for.

Senate committee gives green light to sheltered bike lanes

The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, that changes state parking laws to permit protected bike and pedestrian lanes — lanes on public streets with barriers sheltering them from traffic.

PA officials conduct study on statewide littering, forming action plan to reduce it

Officials with the Department of Environmental Protection and PennDOT and the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful organization announced the results of a statewide litter research study on Wednesday.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 5

February 3, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear OOIDA’s appeal of toll ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case petitioned by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) involving the group’s battle against what it considers to be excessive tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Cap and trade for your car? Pa. is looking at limiting transportation emissions

Gov. Tom Wolf is kicking the tires on cutting carbon emissions from commuters’ and truckers’ tail pipes, even if it could result in an increase to the Keystone State’s already high gas prices.

Public comment period for PennDOT’s Statewide Public Participation Plan now open

PennDOT announced that it will hold a 45-day public comment period on proposed updates to its Statewide Public Participation Plan, which will begin today and conclude on March 11.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 4

January 27, 2020

Vehicle fee hearing set for Tuesday

Luzerne County residents will get a chance this week to tell county council members whether they think council should terminate a controversial county-wide vehicle registration fee.

State House scales back proposed emissions inspection overhaul

The state House scaled back a proposal that would have exempted many Pennsylvania drivers from vehicle emissions inspections — now calling for a study instead of an immediate overhaul.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 3

January 22, 2020

Mark Compton: Safety drives every decision at turnpike commission

The turnpike’s rate of fatalities is 0.22 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled compared to the national average for interstates, which is 0.53. Our injury rates are similarly lower.

Southern Beltway on track for fall 2021 completion

After slow progress around the holidays, construction crews are back to work on the Southern Beltway project, which is on schedule to open to traffic in fall 2021. The $800 million Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission project will stretch 13 miles from Route 22 near the Pittsburgh International Airport to Interstate 79 in Robinson and Cecil townships.


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 2

January 14, 2020

Pa. House passes bill to study exempting newer vehicles from emissions testing

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives wants the state to conduct a study that will determine how old a vehicle can be to be exempted from the state’s annual emissions testing requirement and still comply with federal environmental rules.

Empower communities to protect cyclists and pedestrians

Parking protected bike lanes and pedestrian plazas not only provide more safety, they have been shown to attract investment from young professionals and the kind of forward-thinking employers our cities desperately need.

Luzerne County councilmen vouching for $5 vehicle fee ordinance

A hot topic in Luzerne County is the 5-dollar vehicle registration fee that residents no longer want to pay.

Electric cars will challenge state power grids

As Washington and other states urge their residents to buy electric vehicles — a crucial component of efforts to reduce carbon emissions — they also need to make sure the electric grid can handle it.

Rep. Hennessey announces reelection bid to 26th Dist. House seat

State Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th Dist., has announced his candidacy to seek a 14th term in Harrisburg. Hennessey is majority chair of the House Transportation Committee.

No toll hikes on bridges across the Delaware River — for now

The Delaware River Port Authority has some good news for drivers who use its four bridges: A no-toll-hike pledge is being extended for an extra year.

Public input sought for potential region-wide transportation emissions cap-and-invest program

A draft version of a regional cap-and-invest program for the transportation sector is open for public input until the end of February. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, involved in the Transportation and Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, which is facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

Plans for next round of Lehigh Valley transit projects begin without Route 22 widening

The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study prepared a list of nearly $563 million of projects it intends to tackle in the next 12 years, but widening Route 22 was not on it. By voting Wednesday to send the draft plan to PennDOT’s central office, study members acknowledged they do not have the funds to widen the Lehigh Valley’s busiest and most congested highway.

New bill could ban drivers from using handheld cellphones in PA

Pennsylvania could soon join 20 other states in banning drivers from using handheld cellphones while operating a vehicle.