PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 3

January 19, 2021

Colin McNickle: Pa. Turnpike struggles continue

Awash in rising debt because of dubious public policies and struggling to overcome the financial effects of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission could find its very ability to operate in jeopardy, finds an analysis by the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.

Johnstown lawmaker named majority chairman of state Senate Transportation Committee

A Johnstown area lawmaker has been picked to head the state Senate Transportation Committee.

Hennessey reappointed to House Transportation Committee

House Republican leaders have announced committee assignments for the 2021-22 Legislative Session, naming Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Chester/Montgomery) to his second consecutive term as chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

USDOT awards $40 million in grants for commuter-rail crossing fixes

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced $40 million in grants will be awarded to five states, including Pennsylvania, seeking to improve safety at grade crossings.

Wolf administration invests in rail infrastructure

Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of 26 rail freight improvement projects that will enhance freight mobility while creating or sustaining more than 200 jobs across Pennsylvania.

Schultz sworn in as STB member, giving board a full five members

Michelle Schultz has been sworn in as the newest member of the Surface Transportation Board, giving the agency overseeing rail regulation a full five members for the first time since a law expanding its membership passed in 2015.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 2

January 11, 2021

U.S. 219 improvements to benefit generations

With all the bad news a pandemic has brought in 2020, I applaud a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to fund $6 million for preliminary engineering work on Pennsylvania’s portion of U.S. 219 — the final leg of a highway system to connect Southwestern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and West Virginia via a modern, four-lane thoroughfare.

Transportation Secretary Chao resigns over ‘traumatic’ Capitol attack

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said Thursday she was resigning, making her the first Cabinet secretary to step down amid a wave of resignations from the Trump administration after the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Buses running on state subsidies, federal money waiting

Despite COVID-19’s role as the culprit for dropping ridership by half at River Valley Transit bus service, the city has not had to dip into a $7.2 million Federal Transit Administration relief package — yet, city officials said.

New state law will improve access to ID cards and driver’s licenses

Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed Act 131 of 2020 into law, which will help homeless Pennsylvanians obtain ID cards, help residents with visual impairments earn driver’s licenses and update commercial driver’s license requirements.

Amtrak Keystone Service trimmed as 4 of 5 passengers stop riding

Beginning Jan. 4, more than a dozen Keystone Service trains will stop running on weekdays between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, as demand has dropped in the coronavirus pandemic to one-fifth of pre-pandemic levels.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 1

January 4, 2021

Pa. extends expiration on CDLs and commercial learner’s permits

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has extended expiration dates for commercial driver licenses. Expiration dates on commercial learner’s permits are extended, too.

Reminder: PA Turnpike tolls increase

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reminds drivers that toll increases announced earlier this year took effect Sunday Jan. 3 just after midnight.

Montco is betting on new highway extension to put Norristown on the map

After 20 years and $90 million, Montgomery County has completed a highway extension project officials hope will bring new economic opportunities to Norristown.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 51

December 28, 2020

Transportation funding would benefit region

One need not like projected President-elect Joe Biden or the incoming chief executive’s choice for U.S. transportation secretary to recognize a possible major opportunity for Pennsylvania, including this part of the commonwealth.

Financially stressed PennDOT should get $410M from new bill

Pennsylvania will benefit from a new target of funding in the federal stimulus package approved Dec. 21: state departments of transportation, where financially beleaguered PennDOT is expected to receive $410.1 million.

Cameras at Pa. construction sites nab nearly 192,000 violators in eight months

The 17 white Jeep Grand Cherokees are parked along road construction sites on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and state roads from Route 476 in Lehigh County to Route 28 in Allegheny County.

Pa. holds off joining regional program to cap emissions from cars, trucks

The Transportation & Climate Initiative aims to reduce emissions but also carried the likelihood of higher gas prices at the pump in participating states. Other governors also opted against signing onto the initiative. But Wolf’s move isn’t necessarily a permanent rejection of the concept.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 5, No. 50

December 21, 2020

Biden to pick former rival Pete Buttigieg as transportation chief

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pick former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg to head the transportation department, according to three people familiar with the plans.

After 5 years, the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway bridge is ‘basically’ completed

It has taken five years but the nearly mile-long Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River is “basically” completed.

Sens. Muth, Williams to introduce legislation to provide funding for transportation projects

State Sens. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) and Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny) announced plans to introduce legislation that would authorize PennDOT to borrow funding to continue ongoing large construction projects statewide.

Address transportation funding

Are we eager for the prospect of being hit with tolls all over the state? No. But the very proposal should spur serious conversations about finding better ways of addressing transportation funding, once and for all. There’s no more time to wait.