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.



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.



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.



How do PA drivers rank in confrontational behavior?

September 30, 2022

We can’t vouch for the soundness of its methodology or the reliability of its data, but we pass along the following, for what it’s worth: In a nationwide online survey of 5,000 U.S. drivers, Pennsylvania’s ranking of the most confrontational drivers came in at – drumroll, please – 49th.

In other words, except for good old North Dakota, Pennsylvania drivers are the second-most docile in the country, according to the study. Topping the list as the most confrontational were Utah (this surprises us), Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The survey was conducted by the Forbes Advisor, which describes itself as a provider of educational content and is affiliated with the Forbes business magazine.

Each state was scored on a list of 10 confrontational behaviors, which include ramming another vehicle on purpose, following another car and exiting the car to confront the other driver, forcing another car off the road, and threatening another driver with a gun.

To view the complete rankings and the rest of the confrontational behaviors, follow this link.



California zero-emission vehicle mandate spurs discussion

September 2, 2022

California’s recent ban on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 – and the auto industry’s apparent acceptance of it – represents a major momentum boost to the conversion to zero emission cars across the globe.

While there has been chatter for years about this conversion, continuing advances in electric vehicle technology, battery life and recharging capability, the emergence of public policy incentives and the public’s growing concern about climate change are lining up to nudge market transformation.

Last week, a Washington Post article argued that the forces driving this market shift face “a much heavier lift” – convincing skeptical consumers to come along for the ride.

“The (Biden) administration’s push to upend an entrenched culture of fossil-fuel-powered motoring comes as electric cars are struggling to shake their image as a trophy of coastal elites, unreliable and a headache to charge,” the Post wrote.

The Post cited a nationwide survey by Consumer Reports that revealed that while more than a third of consumers would consider purchasing an EV, concerns related to EV ownership must first be addressed, such as creating greater access to charging, extending vehicle range, and lowering purchase prices.

While 2035 is 13 years away, remember the adage that “dates on the calendar are closer than they may appear.” To read the Post article, follow this link.