Featured, News

Another Pittsburgh bridge deemed unsafe for traffic

February 2, 2023

Photo Credit: Zoe Fuller / 90.5 WESA

The warm glow that we may have felt following the replacement of the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge in under a year dissipated this week upon the news of the closing of the Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge in Oakland, effective immediately.

The bridge is on the western edge of Schenley Park and connects Squirrel Hill and Greenfield to Oakland and downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh officials said a recent structural analysis of the bridge showed it is unsafe for traffic. Repairs will take at least four months and cost $1 to $2 million.

The good news is that the problems were discovered before a structural failure occurred. Mayor Ed Gainey attributed the timely discovery to safety systems that have been put in place in the last year.

The discovery also serves as a reminder that Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure is in poor condition. While there is optimism that funding solutions are around the corner, there is considerable work ahead to bring the condition of our bridges and highways up to an acceptable standard.

For a news article on the bridge’s closing, follow this link.

 

Featured

PennDOT secretary-nominee somehow seems familiar

January 13, 2023

Once he’s confirmed by the PA Senate, Josh Shapiro’s nominee to serve as PennDOT secretary won’t need to ask anyone for directions to PennDOT’s headquarters, or the governor’s office, or the Capitol complex hearing rooms and legislative offices, or where to grab a quick sandwich or salad for lunch.

Secretary-designee Mike Carroll will surely feel right at home in Harrisburg, where he has spent the vast majority of his career – a career that has been chock-full of transportation policy issues even before his 16-year stint as a legislator, capped off last year as Democratic chair of the House Transportation Committee.

His decision not to seek reelection saddened his cohorts on the committee, who knew him as a consensus-builder with a vast reservoir of institutional knowledge, but everyone eventually needs to try new things.

And now we know what his “new thing” will be. Having seen transportation policy through the lens of a congressional, gubernatorial and legislative staff member, and a state representative serving constituents in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties, his next chapter would keep him in Harrisburg, riding herd over one of the nation’s largest state departments of transportation.

The transportation industry welcomed the news of Mike’s nomination. APC’s Bob Latham said:

“We would be hard-pressed to name anyone more capable to lead PennDOT than Mike Carroll. His knowledge and experience with transportation issues began early in his career and continued through his years in the General Assembly. We are facing enormous challenges in funding and maintaining Pennsylvania’s 40,000 miles of state highways. The industry looks forward to continued partnership with PennDOT under Mike Carroll’s leadership.”

PHIA and the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition also add their congratulations and well wishes. We anticipate a pivotal year in advancing transportation funding solutions and look forward to a fruitful 2023.

 

News

PHIA News Digest – Vol. 7, No. 50

December 14, 2022

‘Plastic roads’ are paved with good intention

Transportation officials in multiple states are testing whether roads made from grocery bags, juice cartons, printer ink cartridges or other discarded plastic can make pavement last longer, save money and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

Turnpike’s Scranton Beltway hearing postponed until next year

The proposed Scranton Beltway project is delayed again and that means more waiting, frustration and anger for South Abington Twp. residents who live near the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Wolf administration, AARP highlight safety for mature drivers

Approximately 25% of Pennsylvania’s 9.1 million licensed drivers are 65 and older. In 2021 there were more than 19,700 crashes involving at least one driver aged 65 or older, which resulted in over 300 total fatalities. This represents about 17% of all crashes and about 25% of all fatalities.

Crashes, travel time are down on I-76. This is why

PennDOT says it’s seeing a reduction in both the number of crashes and travel time after launching a pilot program to change speeds along I-76 from King of Prussia to the U.S. Route 1 Interchange in Philadelphia.

Work zone cameras target speeders to keep road crews safe

The pilot program will be up for a vote next year and could end in Feb. 2024 unless officials decide to extend it.

 

News

Election results are finally clear

November 21, 2022

It took nearly two weeks from the General Election to sort out the victors from the vanquished, but we finally appear to have a clearer picture of Pennsylvania’s political landscape moving forward.

As we now know, the U.S. Senate will be controlled by Democrats, and the PA Senate will be controlled by Republicans.

The GOP assumed control of the U.S. House, but with a very thin majority. Democrats will eventually assume control of the PA House, but with an even tinier one-seat majority. What isn’t clear is when the House Dems will be at full strength, and what will happen in the meantime.

One of the 102 Democratic seats is vacant due to the death of state Rep. Tony DeLuca, who passed away a month ago. It was too late to replace him on the ballot, and he won the election. Moreover, two other PA House Democrats, Summer Lee and Austin Davis, were elected to Congress and PA lieutenant governor, respectively, and will vacate their PA House seats upon being sworn in to their new posts in January.

At this moment, the House is deadlocked at 101-101, and the departure of Lee and Davis will make it a 101-99 GOP majority until the three House seats are filled in special elections (all three districts are thought to be solidly Democratic).

The situation could result in a cascade of delays, including selection of speaker of the House, appointment of committee chairs and the composition of legislative committees.

On a transportation note: While committee chair selections and committee assignments will eventually occur, we will bid adieu to both of our current House Transportation chairs. Longtime legislator and GOP Chair Tim Hennessey lost his reelection bid after his district was redrawn, and Democratic Chair Mike Carroll announced months ago that he would not seek reelection. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

 

News

PennDOT on track to meet 2022 lettings projection

October 28, 2022

PennDOT has crossed the $2 billion mark in lettings for this calendar year, and with two months remaining, appears to be well on the way toward hitting the year’s projection of $2.5 billion.

The good news is that federal dollars, an improving economy and a rollback of funds diverted from the Motor License Fund for State Police operations have managed to keep PennDOT’s capital program where it has been in recent years. Still, Pennsylvania is under-investing in its transportation infrastructure, as are many other states.

At next month’s APC fall seminar, PennDOT will announce its projection for the 2023 capital program. We look forward to seeing how things will shape up next year.

To view the PennDOT letting history, click HERE.