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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.



Congressman Lamb offers federal take on transportation issues

May 28, 2021

This week, the popular Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Speaker Series welcomed U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-17) to share his perspective on various transportation issues – primarily on funding.

Lamb, one of several PA members of Congress on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, explained the genesis of a bill he is sponsoring that would send federal money directly to state departments of transportation to keep projects going that have been stalled by falling gas-tax revenue. Pennsylvania would receive $720 million.

Other points he made include:

  • The consensus for a Vehicle Miles Traveled fee to replace consumption taxes on liquid fuels seems to be growing, but it will still be a few years away and will probably require pilot projects to work out methods for tracking miles and collecting revenue.
  • “Infrastructure” – as defined by the Problem-Solvers Caucus (of which he is a member) – consists of traditional components such as bridges, highways and water systems, along with the electrical grid and high-speed internet.
  • Paying for infrastructure will probably consist of multiple measures, such as increasing the corporate tax rate, improving tax enforcement and giving the IRS additional resources.

Asked what could be done to help move infrastructure initiatives forward, he suggested that members of the construction industry contact their congressional representatives and urge support for infrastructure improvements.

“It’s time to go big on this thing,” he said.

To view his 30-minute discussion on transportation issues, follow this link.



Turnpike boosts construction budget as traffic volume improves

May 11, 2021

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is resuming its quest to expand the toll road to at least three lanes in both directions, adding nearly $200 million to its construction budget for a total of $660 million for the coming fiscal year.

Turnpike officials report that traffic volumes are recovering after dropping significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Commercial truck traffic, in particular, is returning, bringing with it more toll revenue.

Turnpike CEO Mark Compton described commercial traffic as “all the way back.” More than 150 of the 550 miles of toll roads across the state have been reconstructed, with another 16 miles currently under construction and 88 miles in design.

For a Post-Gazette article on the subject, click this link.



Biden plan would address transportation needs

April 9, 2021

President Biden’s recent appearance in Pittsburgh, in which he unveiled what he called the American Jobs Plan, has drawn considerable discussion across the nation. While some aspects of it have drawn criticism, many people have embraced the transportation infrastructure portions.

While details have yet to be determined, the general concepts seem sound. They include:

  • Modernizing 20,000 miles of highways, roads and streets.
  • Fixing the 10 most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction.
  • Repairing the worst 10,000 smaller bridges, providing critical linkages to communities.
  • Replacing thousands of buses and rail cars, repairing hundreds of stations, renewing airports and expanding public transportation and rail into new communities.

“Nobody expects that the president’s plan will turn out to be exactly as he proposed it, but the transportation portions of it would create tens of thousands of jobs and address the critical needs to restore the infrastructure,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “We’ll see if Congress and the president can finally come to a consensus on transportation funding.”


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 6, No. 12

March 22, 2021

Transportation funding must be addressed

Gov. Tom Wolf’s new approach to identifying reliable long-term funding for Keystone State roadways and public transit systems faces numerous “potholes.”

Pa. elected officials call for Feds to support transition to electric cars

State and local elected officials are calling on the federal government to speed the transition to cleaner vehicles.

I-83 bridge toll proposal may force state’s hand on gas tax funding problem

Pennsylvania’s long and largely unfruitful struggle to sustainably fund both transit and the state police is a few steps closer to hitting a breaking point — one which will almost certainly have an impact on Cumberland County.

Will Pennsylvania Be the First State to Motor Past the Gas Tax?

After Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act last week, infrastructure spending—and its funding—is taking center stage. For example, the federal excise tax rate on motor fuels has not been changed since 1993, and the tax has not raised sufficient revenue to cover expenditures since 2008. Several states also are in this position and are looking for ways to address the issue.

New commission must find ways to pay for Pa. infrastructure

There is one thing that nearly everyone can agree on — Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges are in desperate need of repairs and upgrades. There is also one thing that almost no one can agree on — how to pay for it.

Sens. Langerholc, Sabatina invited to join Transportation Revenue Options Commission

Sens. Wayne Langerholc Jr. (R-Cambria County) and John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia), Senate Transportation Committee chairman and minority chairman, have been invited to sit on the Transportation Revenue Options Commission.

PennDOT widening projects under increased scrutiny during transit funding uncertainty

Pennsylvania transportation officials have estimated that they need about $15 billion a year to keep the state’s roads and bridges in good condition, even though there is only about $6.9 billion in funds available. This shortfall has led Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration to propose several methods of raising revenue for PennDOT.

Radar speeding enforcement for local police passes in House committee

A bill allowing municipal police across Pennsylvania to use radar guns for speed enforcement details passed the state House Transportation Committee 25-0 Tuesday in a strong early show of support.

Tolling I-83 South Bridge could wind up saving people time and money: PennDOT official

Tolling the I-83 South Bridge to pay for its replacement may cost motorists money but a PennDOT official suggested it also could produce some savings for them from not having to sit idling in traffic jams waiting to get across the Susquehanna River.

Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway construction is once again underway

Construction of the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway has resumed after a winter shutdown.