Recent projects illustrate importance of Act 89

March 29, 2018

Recent announcements of plans to improve our transportation system reinforce the importance Act of 89. Created in 2013, Act 89 provides additional funding for improvements to all modes of transportation. Recent projects include:

  • Gov. Tom Wolf announced that $489 million will be disbursed to municipalities throughout Pennsylvania, $22.8 million more than last year, to help maintain roads and bridges. These funds were made possible through Act 89’s increased liquid fuel tax allocations.
  • The final stage of the $107 million four-lane extension of US 322 from Sand Mountain Road to Potters Mills is underway. The project will yield improve safety and traffic flow.
  • Together, the Rail Transportation Assistance and Rail Freight Assistance programs will fund 31 projects spanning the next five years. The State Transportation Commission approved $36 million in grants that will rebuild tracks and retain nearly 40,000 jobs.
  • Luzerne County plans to fund local road and bridge repairs with a new $5 vehicle registration fee. PennDOT would match revenue raised by the registration.

All of these projects are made possible by Act 89.

“The existence of well-funded projects like these is proof that Act 89 is having a positive effect on Pennsylvania’s transportation system and those who use it,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “And as we also point out, it boosts the economy by creating and retaining a large number of jobs.”



Report examines elderly involvement in fatal accidents

March 14, 2018

Pennsylvania is among the states with the most vehicle fatalities involving elderly drivers.  A report by TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., discusses fatalities involving elderly drivers nationwide, as well as possible solutions.

“Largely because of the transportation funding measure known as Act 89, Pennsylvania reached a record low number of overall highway fatalities in 2016,” noted PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  “This is very positive news.  However, this report shows there is still much to be done to improve safety for older drivers and improve mobility for seniors.”

To view the “Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans” report, click here.  To view the news release, click here.



Ride-sharing firms make inroads in health care sector

March 9, 2018

Several recent articles show that ride-sharing firms such as Lyft and Uber are continuing to broaden their scope, most recently beginning to work with health care providers.

A service initially associated with social life in the city is now teaming up with doctors and hospitals to reduce the rate of missed appointments caused by unreliable transportation.

Technology creates options, but it can also create barriers. In a pilot program that includes about 100 hospitals and doctors’ offices, Uber has developed a way for doctors to hail rides for their patients who may be unfamiliar with the app. Rides can be scheduled as far as 30 days in advance. Patients are not required to have a smart phone or the app.

Ride sharing also shows promise in reducing unnecessary ambulance rides. A recent study by the University of Kansas found that ambulance use is down at least 7 percent  in hundreds of cities where ride sharing apps are used. Relying on ride sharing for transportation to medical facilities leaves the ambulances for those with medical emergencies and saves money.

“Lyft, Uber and other ride-sharing companies are having a significant impact on mobility,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “It’s great to see ride-sharing evolve and have a positive impact in health care as well.”



PennDOT lets nearly $71 million in projects during February

March 9, 2018

PennDOT continued its 2018 construction letting season by issuing just shy of $71 million in projects in February, bringing the year-to-date total to almost $164 million according to numbers compiled by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC).  As a result, PennDOT finished 2017 with just over $2.578 billion in project lettings.  PennDOT forecasted the 2017 letting program to be $2.4 billion and they anticipate the same for 2018.

As in year’s past, PHIA will continue to track contract lettings on a monthly basis.

To view the full February letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

February Letting Report* (PDF)


*The report lists the total contracts awarded at each letting date, a comparison to the same period in the previous calendar year, and letting adjustments made since the previous month. PHIA staff will track PennDOT lettings throughout the year and provide monthly update.



Trump infrastructure plan is a starting point

February 20, 2018

President Trump recently unveiled his $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure proposal. The proposal would dole out $200 billion to states in matching federal money but require state and local governments to raise the remainder through taxation or public-private partnerships. The initiative also would allow states to generate their share by tolling.

The proposal did not specify sources for the matching federal money, saying it would result from cuts in other areas. The proposal also did not address the impending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The trust fund’s primary revenue source is fuel taxes, which have not been raised since 1993.

“As our friend George Wolff mentioned in the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition newsletter, the president’s proposal is a first step in addressing our infrastructure needs, but we have a long way to go.” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “In particular, this proposal must return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency to meet the states’ needs over the long term.”