President-elect Donald Trump nominates Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation

November 30, 2016

819px-elaine_chao_large-819x675President-elect Donald Trump announced that Elaine Chao is his nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation. Chao is the former secretary of labor under President George W. Bush.

Chao has had a long and successful career in Washington. She’s the first Asian-American woman to have held a cabinet-level position. Before becoming labor secretary, she served as a deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush. Her work in transportation was primarily in maritime travel; Chao was the chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

In addition to her service in the federal government, Chao has been president and CEO of the United Way of America, director of the Peace Corps and a distinguished fellow with the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation.

She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

“We are encouraged by Chao’s strong record in transportation and labor issues at the federal level,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “The Trump administration has promised major investment in infrastructure, and the secretary of transportation will play a critical role in that work.”



President-elect Trump proposes $1T infrastructure plan

November 18, 2016

Road constructionFollowing his electoral victory last Tuesday night, President-elect Donald Trump has delved further into the policy required to enact some of his campaign promises. One such promise was $1 trillion invested in infrastructural improvements.

His proposal is a 10-year program, with funding for highways, tunnels, bridges and airports. The funding comes in large part from tax credits to spur private investment. It does not include any changes to the Highway Trust Fund, or an increase in the federal gas tax.

The plan was mentioned in Trump’s acceptance speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” Trump said. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure — which will become, by the way, second to none — and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

Trump’s proposal has garnered much support in the transportation industry, and on both sides of the aisle of Congress in Washington. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, from Pennsylvania, called the plan “encouraging” and said that “the idea of addressing transportation is gaining some traction in Washington.”

“The highway industry in Pennsylvania is very much looking forward to seeing this proposal enacted,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We are glad the president-elect acknowledges the improvements that need to be made to our infrastructure, and we are ready to get to work.”



A lasting legacy…The Honorable J. Barry Stout

October 31, 2016

stoutIn Memorium…The Honorable J. Barry Stout

State Sen. J. Barry Stout, longtime legislator, family man and one of the best friends the transportation industry ever had, died Saturday at the age of 79 at his home in Bentleyville.

“His passing is a great loss to his constituents and to the Commonwealth as a whole,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “He had many, many noteworthy accomplishments, and his support for the transportation industry in his role as Democratic Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee was just stellar. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family.”

Stout received PHIA’s highest honor–The Transportation Advocate of the Year Award–in 1998.  Stout also was a honorary lifetime members of the organization and frequent participant in the association’s activities.

To read Senator Stout’s obituary, click here.



PennDOT announces more projects funded by PA’s Multimodel Fund

October 19, 2016

ACT89ABSTRACTLast week, Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards announced transportation projects all over the state that would be funded using money from the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The list of projects include 37 highways, bridges, bikes and pedestrian paths; these improvements total $40 million. The projects are regionally diverse, and include more than $3 million for road improvements in Carlisle; $4.6 million to Philadelphia for roadway improvements, as well as the creation of bike and pedestrian paths near local elementary schools; and millions to the rest of the state.

The Multimodal Fund was created by Act 89, the comprehensive, multi-modal funding legislation of 2013. This bill created dedicated streams of funding for transportation improvements, an investment of $2.4 billion by the state. Funds are generated by the elimination of the flat gas tax, and uncapping the wholesale oil franchise tax.

“The multi-modal projects that will be funded this year are a testament to the necessity and success of Act 89,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “These improvements are critical to improving the safety and experience of Pennsylvanians, whether they travel by foot, bike, car, train or plane.”



PHIA celebrates successful 2016 conference

October 6, 2016

2016PHIACONFWEBLast week, more than one hundred fifty industry professionals and highway experts gathered at the Harrisburg Hilton for the annual Pennsylvania Highway Information Association conference.

Following a welcome from PHIA President Jamie Van Buren, attendees were treated to seminars from transportation experts on the topics of autonomous vehicles, the future of state funding, and public perception of transportation improvements.

The Turnpike Commission provided an update on its work, and the day wrapped up with an examination of the politics at play in transportation industry policy.

Our Keynote featured capitol press corps members John Micek of the Patriot News and Dennis Owens of abc27-WHTM. They provided our audience with their predictions for the election next month, as well as a primer on the large plate of issues facing the General Assembly upon its return.

“The PHIA conference and annual meeting is always an important gathering for industry professionals, but this year’s speakers provided exceptional updates on many facets of transportation,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “The broad range of speakers reinforced our belief that highways are an integral part of a multi-modal transportation system.”