PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 11

March 15, 2021

Gov. Wolf commits to phasing out gas tax, announces commission to develop funding solutions 

Governor Tom Wolf today reiterated his commitment to phase out Pennsylvania’s gas tax, which is becoming an unreliable source for funding Pennsylvania’s vast transportation network. To make this possible and to further address the state’s transportation funding needs, the governor has also signed an Executive Order establishing the Transportation Revenue Options Commission, which will develop comprehensive funding recommendations for Pennsylvania’s large and aging infrastructure.

PA Turnpike refutes ‘most expensive’ toll road in the world ranking

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials say a recent report ranking its toll rates the highest in the world is “seriously flawed.”

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg shares thoughts on bridge and I-80 tolls

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to tolling Interstate 80 but not inclined to see bridges tolled.

PA’s rank regarding bad bridges continues to improve

Of the 22,911 bridges in Pennsylvania, the FHWA classified 15.3% (3,501 bridges) of them as structurally deficient in 2019. This is down from 4,701 bridges in 2015.

The debate over tolling Pennsylvania bridges, explained 

Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is in trouble. Lackluster tax collections during the COVID-19 pandemic nearly put a halt last year to hundreds of road projects across the commonwealth, which were kept alive only after the state floated short-term debt to pay contractors and suppliers.

Pa. lawmaker wants to slow down plan to add tolls on bridges

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambria County, has introduced legislation that would limit the powers of the independent public-private partnership board that authorized the bridge tolling plan.

PennDOT announces new Scenic Byway designation

PennDOT announced that the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway in Chester and Delaware counties has received a National Scenic Byways designation from the Federal Highway Administration.

Electric vehicle use bills are introduced

Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson, D-Philadelphia, has introduced two pieces of legislation in the state House of Representatives. House Bill 524 was referred recently to the House Finance Committee. It would amend the Tax Reform Code of 1971 to create a tax exemption for any zero-emission vehicle.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 10

March 9, 2021

PennDOT: Bridge toll plan will strengthen Pa.

Pennsylvania is home to the fifth largest state-maintained road network and third highest number of bridges in the country, so the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s responsibility over our aging transportation system is a large one.

PhilaPort breaks ground on new near-dock warehouse

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and senior PhilaPort leadership participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new near-dock warehouse. The new PhilaPort Distribution Center will fuel the next phase of development for one of the fastest growing ports in America.

PA Turnpike tolls tabbed as most expensive in the world, study finds

So you want to drive across the state of Pennsylvania? Make sure there’s enough money in your bank account first. A recent report by insurance website Budget Direct found that the Pennsylvania Turnpike topped its list as the most expensive toll road in the world.

Finding way to fund police can help Pa. bridges

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s plan to toll nine bridges to offset the cost of replacing and rehabilitating the state’s crumbling infrastructure does make some sense. It also highlights the commonwealth’s ongoing funding problem for two key elements: Infrastructure and the state police.

Pa., state electric vehicle scorecards show there’s room for improvement

A report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy shows that many states, including Pennsylvania have work to do to better support electric vehicles (EVs) and EV infrastructure in their states.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 9

March 1, 2021

Registration fees, fuel tax eyed for increases as state struggles to fund its highways, bridges

Pennsylvania has the second highest gasoline tax in the U.S. after California and with more electric cars in the nation’s future, it means fewer funds will be available to pay for necessary highway and bridge maintenance, a Lycoming County transportation expert said.

Lawmakers working on bill to prevent PennDOT’s proposed tolling

When PennDOT announced they were considering tolling bridges, they did it without needing legislative approval. Business owners near the proposed tolling site say this could force them to close up shop for good.

Proposed bridge tolls could be the end of the road for the Pa. bus industry

The decision to toll bridges on the interstate system is one that the Pennsylvania Bus Association strongly disagrees with. Our industry already pays more than its fair share to operate on Pennsylvania roadways and additional tolls would only add to that increasing cost.

Bridge commission proposes system-wide toll hikes amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission wants to hike E-ZPass tolls by 25 percent and cash tolls by 200 percent later this spring to boost revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

PennDOT extends expiration dates on commercial driver licenses

PennDOT announced that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

PennDOT details funding problems and possible fixes

During its annual budget hearing Tuesday, the commonwealth’s Department of Transportation told House lawmakers it’s mulling ways to fix short-term funding problems –– without asking for more state money.

Pennsylvania ranks 17th in U.S. in switching to electric vehicles

Pennsylvania ranks 17th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in transitioning from gas-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles, according to a study conducted by the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 8

February 23, 2021

PennDOT announces ‘major bridge P3 initiative’

As part of its study to explore sustainable transportation funding methods and completing critical projects, PennDOT today announced the bridges being considered for its PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative, and the coming industry opportunities to participate.

Do you agree with PennDOT’s plans to add tolls on nine bridges across the state?

 

Editorial: The dollars and sense of toll bridges

PennDOT is planning to expand its network of toll roads with the Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative — a $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion investment in rehabilitation of up to nine Interstate bridges, announced in November.

DEP announces new funding to expand Pa.’s electric vehicle infrastructure

Efforts to expand Pennsylvania’s electric vehicle infrastructure are coming in the form of grant funding and new charging stations, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed Friday.

Biden discusses COVID relief and infrastructure with top labor leaders

President Joe Biden told 10 top union leaders on Wednesday that his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and a separate measure to modernize U.S. infrastructure would boost the U.S. economy and create millions of good-paying jobs.

Pennsylvania State Police will escape legislative scrutiny in 2021 budget process

One of the nation’s largest statewide police forces, the Pennsylvania State Police, will not be subject to annual budget hearings, shielding the department from lawmakers who have used the forum in the past to question officials and hold them accountable.

State police should not be given pass in budget hearings

The Pennsylvania State Police is one of the largest police forces in the United States, with more than 4,200 troopers, 1,800 civilian employees and an annual budget of more than $1.4 billion. Yet as budget hearings got under way in Harrisburg this week, the House Appropriations Committee decided not to conduct a budget hearing for the agency.

Speed and you’ll get the picture

Motorists, beware. Those speed cameras at some work zones throughout the state that I warned you about last year are coming up on their first anniversary, and they are doing the job.

 

PHIA NEWS DIGEST

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 7

February 16, 2021

Chamber pushing for radar in municipal police departments

The House Transportation Committee will soon be working on radar for every municipal police department in Pennsylvania, a topic that’s been pushed by the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Committee.

PennDOT to decide Thruway work plan for crews

PennDOT officials will have a plan within the next two months on whether construction crews will work 24/7 in the southern section of the $865 million Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project.

Solar farm designed to lower SEPTA’s carbon footprint

The 17.5-megawatt solar farm in Franklin County was recently made operational, marking a step in Pennsylvania’s decarbonization efforts. The project, Elk Hill Solar 2, developed under a power purchase agreement between SEPTA and Lightsource bp, is helping advance energy and sustainability priorities for both SEPTA and the commonwealth.

PennDOT offering Pa. homeless free ID’s

Pennsylvanians who are homeless are now able to get a free photo ID or renewal of a photo ID at PennDOT driver license centers throughout the state.

PennDOT wins national award for safety

PennDOT was recently recognized with two 2020 Annual Transportation Systems Management & Operations awards presented by the National Operations Center of Excellence.

Electric-powered trucks rule pursued in Pennsylvania

A renewed effort at the Pennsylvania statehouse would adopt a federal weight exemption for electric-powered trucks in place in the majority of states. Currently, the state of Pennsylvania authorizes electric-powered trucks to weigh up to 80,000 pounds.