PennDOT, Turnpike Commission join in platooning demo

November 2, 2020

PennDOT and the Pa. Turnpike Commission participated in a recent demonstration of automated truck platooning, consisting of a 280-mile mission from the Pittsburgh area to food banks in Ohio and Michigan.

“Platooning” is a term for linking two or more trucks in a convoy using technology and automated driving systems that maintain a set distance between vehicles.

The demonstration was under the auspices of the Smart Belt Coalition, consisting of transportation agencies in Ohio and Michigan, as well as Pennsylvania. The trucks carried food donations to the food banks.

PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner noted that platooning could provide several benefits, including improved safety and reduced congestion, along with helping to fill a truck driver shortage.

“It hasn’t been that long ago that platooning was just an idea, but now we’re seeing the idea bloom into the testing and demonstration phases,” Wagner said. “As is the case with autonomous vehicles, these things are happening much more quickly than many people anticipated.”

For more information about the platooning demonstration project, click here.


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Pa. posts first-quarter revenue results

October 12, 2020

In our quest to present positive news, sometimes we have to settle for news that’s not as bad as it could have been.

And so it is with Pennsylvania’s revenue report for the first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year. September collections totaled $3.3 billion in General Fund revenue, 8.3% greater than projections.

Collections for the fiscal year to date were $9.9 billion, 4.9% more than projections.
Moreover, the Motor License Fund, which receives its revenue primarily from fuel taxes and license and registration fees, has collected $770 million year to date, essentially equal to projections, another positive sign.

However, PennDOT estimates that the Commonwealth’s transportation funding gap is $9 billion annually. The transportation construction industry has launched an advocacy campaign aimed at policymakers in hopes that transportation funding needs will be recognized and addressed.

An explanation of how we arrived at this point, and steps that would help reduce the gap, can be found at this link.



Roundabouts again shown to improve safety

September 3, 2020

PennDOT released a report this week that once again verifies that roundabouts are considerably safer than the intersections they replace.

PennDOT examined data gathered at 22 roundabouts on state routes at intersections that previously had been controlled with traffic signals or stop signs. All 22 had at least three years of crash data available before and after the roundabout was built.

The data showed that suspected serious injuries were reduced by 78 percent, suspected minor injuries were reduced by 62 percent, possible/unknown severity injuries were reduced by 82 percent, and property damage-only crashes increased by 20 percent.

Most impressive is that the study showed that, through 2019, fatalities were reduced to zero, and crashes overall were reduced by 24 percent.

“Pennsylvania didn’t have many roundabouts until recent years, and many people were concerned that they would actually cause more accidents,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “But the data prove that the opposite is true. And not only are they safer, they usually improve traffic flow as well.”

PennDOT notes that 34 other roundabouts have been built on state routes, with another 40 in design.

To learn more about roundabouts, visit PennDOT’s roundabout page at this link.



APC, Keystone Coalition testify in House committee hearings

August 20, 2020

This week, representatives of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors and the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition testified before the House Transportation Committee to weigh in on a package of bills developed by a House task force that was formed last year to investigate how to better fund transportation infrastructure.

The hearings were originally scheduled for April, but were postponed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic significantly worsened the Commonwealth’s infrastructure funding capabilities, and most of the witnesses who were lined up in April had to retool their testimony.

APC’s Bob Latham recounted the events that have occurred since the passage of Act 89 of 2013. In addition to not fully addressing the funding gap, the diversions from the Motor License Fund to support General Fund functions increased.

The pandemic caused a major drop in fuel tax revenue, which PennDOT estimates will cause a shortfall in expected revenue totaling $800 million through next year. Read more


Remembering Nick Micozzie

July 30, 2020

This week, we note with sadness the passing of former state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, 89, after suffering a fall the previous week.

Nick, of Delaware County, served in the House from 1979 until his retirement in 2014. He will be remembered mostly as the longtime Republican chair of the House Insurance Committee, but he played a major role in advancing the legislation that became Act 89 of 2013, the transportation funding measure.

Nick took on the chairmanship of the Transportation Committee following the death of Dick Hess in September, 2013. Many wondered why he would leave the relatively comfortable job as Insurance chair and take on the difficult and controversial challenge of transportation funding.

In keeping with his longtime public policy philosophy, he explained that he believed it was “the right thing to do.” He shepherded the measure through the House, and two months later, Act 89 became law.

We at PHIA and throughout Pennsylvania transportation circles send our deep condolences to Nick’s family and friends. To read more about his professional and personal life, follow this link to the DelCo Times.