PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 1

January 4, 2022

2021 Smart Talk encore — How will Pa. spend infrastructure money?

More than $18 billion will be on its way to Pennsylvania as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month.

Pa. Turnpike planning steps to reduce $105M in unpaid tolls

The uncollected tolls are mostly from drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass transponder and failed to pay a bill they received in the mail after the agency took a photo of their license plate. Other delinquents are drivers who purposely cover their license or take other steps to avoid paying turnpike tolls, or who live out of state and feel no obligation to pay Pennsylvania’s piper.

Second half of CSVT construction to begin in 2022

Construction of the southern portion of the $865 million Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project is scheduled to begin in 2022.

PennDOT distributes $12.9M in red-light enforcement grants

PennDOT recently awarded approximately $12.9 million in grants to 22 municipalities statewide through the Automated Red Light Enforcement program.

Pa. should embrace its heritage by restoring railways

Streetcars were once a ubiquitous presence in Pennsylvania’s cities and towns. This mode of transport — a symbol of America’s booming industrial age — was born in Scranton, which became known as “The Electric City” when it opened the first continuously operating electric trolley system in 1886. Soon thereafter, Scranton inspired dozens of other rail projects. By World War I, Pennsylvania was crisscrossed with trolleys, light rails, and interurbans.

Pa. Turnpike introduced 5% toll increase last weekend

Starting on Sunday after midnight, tolls were increased by 5% for both the E-ZPass and toll by plate systems. The only exception is for the new Southern Beltway, PA Turnpike 576.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 51

December 27, 2021

PennDOT continues to push for increased revenue; GOP leaders remain skeptical

In recent weeks, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian has been making the rounds with legislative leaders to push the agency’s three-pronged approach to close what it calls an annual funding gap of $8.1 billion.

Reps. Houlahan and Dean, PennDOT sec and local officials tout infrastructure bill

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) hosted state and local officials at the Paoli Train Station to celebrate the positive impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law.

James William ‘Bill’ Lincoln

James William “Bill” Lincoln, 81, of Connellsville, former legislator and Turnpike commission member, passed away Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease.



PHIA News Digest — Vol. 6, No. 50

December 20, 2021

Rep. Wild announces $1.17 billion from infrastructure bill for PA

Over a billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure investments will be coming to the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed in November, according to Representative Susan Wild’s office.

NEPA business, tourism leaders express support for Scranton-NYC Amtrak route

The push is on in northeast Pennsylvania to show support for Amtrak’s proposed Scranton-NYC route, with business and tourism leaders endorsing the project as signatures fill a petition organized by an advocacy group.

Pa. OKs $33 million in grants for freight-rail projects

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced the approval of 25 freight-rail improvement projects that will receive a combined $33 million in state funding.

Automated Speed Enforcement’s program awards Philadelphia $22.1 million

Pennsylvania’s Automated Speed Enforcement program recently awarded Philadelphia $22.1 million for eight traffic safety projects.

Senator Casey and leaders discuss investments in public transportation

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey met with transportation officials and Altoona elected officials Monday to discuss the possibilities with the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Battle over tolling I-79 plus 8 other interstate bridges rages on

PennDOT is pressing ahead, laying the groundwork for charging tolls on nine bridges across Pennsylvania to raise money for repair and replacement.

Sens. Blunt, Warner reintroduce bill to improve U.S. infrastructure

Thursday, U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mark Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Reinventing Economic Partnerships and Infrastructure Redevelopment (REPAIR) Act to help close the infrastructure gap.

Thompson meets with Highway Administration in opposition to bridge tolling

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson on Tuesday hosted a meeting with the Federal Highway Administration to voice his concerns over PennDOT’s plan to toll nine major bridges throughout Pennsylvania.

PennDOT announces new 511PA features

The PennDOT announced updates to the 511PA traveler information service including new features and alert customization for passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle drivers.



PHIA News Digest — Vol. 6, No. 49

December 13, 2021

Scranton Beltway project moving forward

Work on the Scranton Beltway project is back on, now that money for the project is flowing again. The $160 million plan aims to cut traffic on Interstate 81 in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and drive it onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Route 476).

Rte. 981 improvement fully funded with injection of $30M

PennDOT has designated an additional $30 million for the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project, completing the funding needed to construct Route 981 corridor upgrades and realignment between Norvelt in Mt. Pleasant Township and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

Lehigh River Bridge is under consideration for being tolled

It was Carbon County’s turn to respond to PennDOT’s plan to toll nine bridges, including three here in our area, in an effort to pay for expensive repairs.

Tolls to increase 3% on NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) will raise tolls by 3% starting Jan. 1, according to reports. The increase is the second toll increase in as many years.

No toll hikes for DRPA’s New Jersey, Pa. spans

It will cost motorists the same to cross the Delaware River Port Authority’s bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania next year.

Bill would save Turnpike E-ZPass customers from surprise charges

A Channel 11 News investigation could lead to a change in state law to help protect Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission E-ZPASS customers from surprise charges.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 48

December 7, 2021

Revenue Department releases November collections

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $253.1 million for the month, $4.7 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 $1.2 billion, which is $47.1 million, or 4.0 percent, above estimate.

State senator seeks to bring back Turnpike toll workers

Sen. Marty Flynn, D-Scranton, said his plan stems from the amount of tolls — $104 million – that went uncollected on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the past year.

At the PhilaPort, long-term problems and short-term staffing issues collide

Trucking and marine shipping experts say labor shortages and infrastructure issues are partially hampering the flow of goods in and out of Pennsylvania.

Phony budgets bring us infrastructure woes

I’ve argued the biggest reason for this mess, for our roads and bridges consistently ranked among the nation’s worst, is our government’s consistent refusal to fix it. But it’s shoddier than that. It’s deliberate misuse of funding to fix it.

How will Pa. use infrastructure money?

Tuesday’s Smart Talk focuses on Pennsylvania’s infrastructure needs and projects and how the money will be spent. Appearing on the program are Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Patrick McDonnell, Larry Shifflet, Deputy Secretary for Planning with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Cathy Farrell, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Report Card produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Gene Barr, CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

PennDOT to display plans online for I-70, Laurel Valley projects

The I-70 plans will be available at from 5 p.m. Wednesday through 5 p.m. Dec. 17. The website will contain project design details, with visitors able to provide feedback and sign on to a project contact list.