Featured, News

Infrastructure bill survives Democrats’ differences

August 27, 2021

The proposed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill survived a tenuous couple of weeks before U.S. House members agreed on a path toward considering that measure and a partisan $3.5 trillion budget bill that is not likely to draw any Republican support.

Both measures advanced on a 220-212 party line vote as House leadership promised a vote on the infrastructure measure by Sept. 27, appeasing nine centrist Democrats who wanted the infrastructure bill to be considered before the budget resolution.

The budget measure is being set up to require only Democratic votes in both the House and Senate. The budget legislation includes nearly all of the party’s agenda and is viewed as too expensive by GOP members.

To read the CNBC news account, follow this link.

 

Featured

TROC submits report to Governor Wolf

August 2, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission completed its assigned task, submitting its report to the governor last week.

While several of the recommendations still require fleshing out, the transportation construction industry strongly endorsed three of the recommendations for which it has been advocating for some time:

  • The report recommended completely removing the State Police from the Motor License Fund, which would restore the equivalent of 11 cents per gallon specifically for road and bridge improvements, without raising the state gasoline tax. The MLF has been subsidizing about three-quarters of the State Police operations annually.
  • The report also calls for establishing a fee for electric vehicles, which currently do not contribute to repairing the wear and tear they cause to roads and bridges. While such a fee would contribute a relatively small amount for road and bridge upkeep initially, vehicle manufacturers across the globe are moving toward a transition to EVs in the near future.
  • Given the considerable growth in the delivery economy, the Commission recommended establishing fees for products delivered to homes and businesses. It appears that these fees could be relatively small, yet would raise substantial revenue for building and maintaining transportation infrastructure.

Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, while also strongly supporting replacement of the state gas tax with a Commission-recommended mileage-based fee, said that transition may be several years away and would require federal leadership to coordinate the system among the states. Until then, APC said, the current federal and state consumption-based fuel taxes will continue to be the most dependable source of transportation funding.

PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian has suggested that policymakers may begin working on the legislative aspects of the report as soon as this fall. Implementing most or all of the recommendations will take several years.

The final TROC report can be found at this link.

 

Featured, News, PHIA Programs & Awards

2021 Road and Bridge Safety Award Program Open for PA’s Counties

July 27, 2021

Each year the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) team with various state organizations to recognize the best road safety or bridge improvement projects undertaken across the state.  For the 38th straight year, the program is now open for Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.  Eligible projects are those in which most or all of the safety improvements were completed in 2020 or 2021.  The competition recognizes not only major, high-cost projects, but any improvements that have increased public safety.

Go here for complete information including the entry brochure. The deadline is October 1, 2021.

 

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Transportation advocates turn attention toward Washington

July 8, 2021

Two weeks ago, we expressed optimism that the then soon-to-be-enacted PA budget would include a boost in transportation funding. We’re pleased to report that the General Assembly and governor saw fit to add $279 million to PennDOT’s construction program this fiscal year, enough to keep hundreds of highway builders working and continue much-needed bridge and road improvements. The added revenue comes from American Rescue Act funds.

As we put the budget behind us and state lawmakers recess until late September, our attention turns toward activities in Washington, where the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act awaits Senate approval after advancing from a unanimous Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Our ever-vigilant Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition distributed this draft letter to Coalition members asking them to consider contacting Senators Casey and Toomey to push for Senate leaders to schedule floor time for the bill this month. Doing so would signal support for the measure, which would increase federal highway investment by 34 percent.

As those who follow transportation funding know, the previous funding mechanism expired in 2020, but the renewal process stalled and the funding program was extended for just a year. A longer-term funding mechanism would provide the certainty that the industry requires to function efficiently.

We hope to be able to report good news in the coming weeks.

 

Featured, News

Highway builders await budget approval with optimism

June 25, 2021

It appears that the 2021-22 Pennsylvania state budget could be wrapped up by the end of this week. The construction industry is hopeful that its advocacy efforts will pay off with additional funding for PennDOT’s capital projects, which could support several thousand family-sustaining jobs for this construction season.

The advocacy efforts generated hundreds of emails and phone calls to legislators and Governor Wolf. The contacts were made to demonstrate widespread support for addressing PennDOT’s short-term funding needs, nudging the capital project expenditures back closer to where they have been in recent years. They had been proposed to dip to levels not seen since 2008.

The advocacy efforts also included news media outreach through TV, radio and print media outlets. APC’s Bob Latham was at the center of those efforts. To hear Bob’s 4½-minute interview on ABC27’s “This Week in Pennsylvania,” follow this link.

We’ll be back with an update once the budget is approved.