P3 Board approves Turnpike fiber optic cable project

June 17, 2016

P3altLate last week, the state Public-Private Partnership Board approved the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s proposal to seek a firm to install fiber optic cable along the Turnpike and its extensions.

The cable will span more than 550 miles and significantly improve the communication capacity for the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT. The proposal invites a private partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the cable network and lease the remaining capacity of the network to other users.

Utilizing the Public-Private Transportation Partnerships Act of 2012 will enable the Turnpike Commission to reserve its capital for rebuilding the toll road. The Commission expects bids from large firms located in metropolitan regions of the country.

Industry input will be sought by October of this year, and the Commission plans to have a preferred firm selected by June of 2017, with construction to be completed in 2018.

“The aging system is nearing its capacity, and maintenance costs are increasing,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “An economically efficient P3 project is a great way to improve wireless infrastructure and capacity to meet the Turnpike’s needs into the future.”



PennDOT lets over $218 million on projects during May

June 2, 2016

NEW_PENNDOTPennDOT let over $218 million projects during the month of May. With this letting, PennDOT has bid a total of $1 billion in 2016 to date. At this same point last year, PennDOT bid a total of $1.196 billion. The official 2015 year-end total was $2.594 billion just shy of PennDOT’s $2.6 billion forecast. PennDOT reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) that 2016 lettings are expected to be $2.4 billion.

With the 2013 enactment of the transportation funding bill (Act 89) there is reason to see increased lettings. Act 89, which will implement a $2.3 billion comprehensive transportation funding plan over the next five years, will result in PennDOT exceeding the $2 billion construction lettings mark for years to come.

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

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

May 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.


PA Turnpike COO speaks at PHIA Policy Breakfast

May 18, 2016

IMG_0283Pennsylvania Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey joined policy leaders at the PHIA Policy Breakfast series this week to discuss recent events and the future of the PA Turnpike.

Shuey reviewed recent Turnpike events, including the move to a 70-mile-per-hour speed limit, and the challenges of the January snow storm. He was very positive about the increase in the speed limit, explaining that consistent speeds across the entire turnpike increase safety as drivers know what to expect.

“All we are about [the Pennsylvania Turnpike] is moving people safely,” Shuey said. The concern about the safety of motorists and construction workers alike has prompted the Turnpike Commission to support a proposed automated speed limit  enforcement in work zones.

Nearly 300 miles of the Turnpike have been improved, are in the process of improvements, or are slated for improvement projects. The Turnpike’s $450 million annual contribution to public transportation funding has pushed its debt toward $10 billion, but Act 89 provides for that payment to end in 2022.

“It was very valuable for our guests to hear of the projects on the Turnpike,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We will need as many allies as possible to protect transportation dollars for transportation projects.”



‘Free’ police coverage has a high price tag

May 5, 2016

In the last few weeks, editorials and op-ed articles have appeared in newspapers around the state in reaction to the Associated Press story about “free” state police coverage.

pspThe AP noted that nearly half of Pennsylvania’s municipalities rely on the State Police for all of their police protection, and others for at least some coverage. Municipalities are able take advantage of this coverage at no additional cost.

This has increased the cost of operation for the State Police, without any additional revenue to pay for it. Residents of communities that have local police forces or participate in regional police coverage pay twice – for their local coverage, and for State Police coverage in municipalities that rely on State Police.

Gerald Cross, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League Central Division, commented about this problem with an op-ed article published in several newspapers. You can read the entire article here.

“Mandating that all 2,561 municipalities have their own police departments is unrealistic. One alternative is to require payment for state police services,” Cross wrote. “A more comprehensive and long-term, albeit more complicated, option is to create a mechanism for local government tax-base sharing to deliver all types of critical services more effectively on a regional level. One thing is clear: A wide-ranging discussion of how local governments in Pennsylvania provide services is long overdue.” Read more


Pennsylvania Records Second Lowest Year of Traffic Deaths in 2015

April 20, 2016

Grunge state of Pennsylvania flag mapPennsylvania saw 1,200 traffic fatalities on its roads in 2015, the second lowest rate of any year since 1928.  The lowest rate of traffic fatalities was set in 2014, with 1,195 on Pennsylvanian roads and highways.

PennDOT maintains statistics on the types of crashes, and 2015 also saw significant decreases in traffic fatalities involving older drivers, aggressive drives and accidents at intersections. Unfortunately, there were increases in other types of accidents, including single-vehicles running off the road, and fixed object crashes.

Overall, the two-year streak of low traffic fatalities comes after PennDOT invested nearly $50 million for safety improvements in the last five years. These efforts have taken shape in the form of rumble strips, improved signage, pavement markings and updated road delineators. Read more