PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding

November 24, 2015 by · Comments Off on PennDOT Secretary Richards highlights need for more PennDOT funding
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STATEPOLICE (002)PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards held media availability recently to discuss PennDOT’s ongoing projects and needs. One of the more pressing needs she addressed was reliable federal funding.

“It helps us if we have a long-term bill and in the world of the federal government, six years is a long-term bill,” Secretary Richards said. “Of course it helps us if that long-term bill has predictable funding for all six years. It is really hard for us to plan if we don’t know that funding is predictable. That challenge of how much money we have and what needs to be done is something we deal with every day here at PennDOT.”

She also highlighted another issue that PHIA has been concerned about for some time: diverting money from Motor License Fund to help support State Police. The Motor License Fund is constitutionally protected fund for highway use.

“We are pleased that the Motor License Fund issue is on the secretary’s radar, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to find a solution,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Highway patrol is a highway use, but two thirds of the State Police budget is coming from the Motor License Fund, and it certainly does not appear that the agency devotes two thirds of its resources for that purpose.”



Congress approves three-week highway funding extension

November 3, 2015 by · Comments Off on Congress approves three-week highway funding extension
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congress progressLast week, Congress acted to extend highway funding for an additional three weeks beyond the current deadline.

The bill authorizes federal transportation funding through November 20. President Obama has outspokenly opposed short-term funding for highways passed in lieu of long-term funding, but is expected to sign the bill. Members of Congress in both chambers have stated that the short-term funding provides more time to work on a long-term bill without defaulting on projects.

Over the summer, the Senate passed a six-year highway funding bill but only included three years of guaranteed funding. The House is currently working on its own version of a six-year bill that includes $325 billion in funding with three years of funding, but cuts off spending after three years if Congress does not establish a funding formula for the final three years. This measure is expected to see a floor vote in the next few weeks.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and raises $34 billion annually, but the federal government spends $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

“Unpredictable funding from the federal government has plagued the highway community for several years,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “Infrastructure improvement projects require consistent and reliable funding, and Congress has failed to provide that. Road improvements will slow if a long-term solution is not reached soon.”



This just in

November 24, 2014 by · Comments Off on This just in
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60minutesIt won’t come as news to those who follow PHIA, but it’s worth noting that the deterioration of America’s transportation infrastructure has come to the attention of CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Correspondent Steve Croft selected Pittsburgh and its bridges as a backdrop in a segment that aired on Sunday. He also traveled to Philadelphia to interview former Gov. Ed Rendell on what could have been a disaster with an Interstate 95 bridge, were it not for the quest for a sausage sandwich.

“Although Pennsylvania has earned a reputation for having considerable transportation system problems, we’re now better off than nearly any other state following the passage of Act 89 a year ago,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “That doesn’t mean our problem is solved, and the 60 Minutes segment pointed out that the lack of consensus at the federal level continues.”

The segment, along with two additional segments on the issue that were not aired, may be viewed here.



Congress extends federal highway program until May 2015

August 1, 2014 by · Comments Off on Congress extends federal highway program until May 2015
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After much back and forth maneuvering between the U.S. Senate and House, Congress finally passed legislation stabilizing the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) until May 31, 2015.  The bill cleared the final stage in the U.S. Senate late last night by an 81 to 13 vote.  Both Pennsylvania Senators Casey and Toomey voted in favor of the final vote to extend the HTF.  The bill now heads to President Obama who indicated he would sign it into law. Read more


U.S. House passes short-term funding bill

July 18, 2014 by · Comments Off on U.S. House passes short-term funding bill
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The U.S. House this week approved by a wide margin a short-term measure that would prop up the Federal Highway Trust Fund through next spring. That it was generally welcomed by the construction industry and transportation advocates speaks to the new level of expectation that the Congress has set for itself.

As reported in The Hill (click HERE to read), a widely-read inside-the-Beltway newspaper, “both chambers’ version of the transportation bill rely on so-called ‘pension smoothing’ — a proposal that budget experts across the ideological spectrum have dubbed a gimmick.”

Moreover, Congress has once again ignored the pleas of the business community, which is pushing for a long-term funding plan. The American Trucking Association and AAA have joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in this quest. Click HERE to read more. Read more


U.S. Highway Trust Fund could run out by July

March 26, 2014 by · Comments Off on U.S. Highway Trust Fund could run out by July
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The federal Highway Trust Fund could run out of money as early as July, according to a recently updated projection by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

On Oct. 1, the beginning of the current fiscal year, the highway portion of the trust fund had only $1.6 billion in it. It received $9.7 billion from the General Fund, bringing its total up to $10.4 billion, but the account has already been diminished by nearly $3.3 billion since then.

The mass transit portion of the trust fund began the fiscal year with $2.5 billion, and received a transfer from the General Fund which brought its balance up to $4.5 billion. The balance stands at around $3.2 billion, as of the last week of February.

The quickly diminishing funds could mean trouble for the states. The trust fund allocates about $1.6 billion annually to the state of Pennsylvania for road construction.  The sudden loss of federal funding would, in essence, undo the transportation funding act that passed last year. Read more


Washington infrastructure event provides many questions, few answers

February 6, 2014 by · Comments Off on Washington infrastructure event provides many questions, few answers
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ShusterPortraitFinancial software, data and media company Bloomberg hosted an infrastructure event in Washington this week, and while the event provided a forum to frame the issue from multiple perspectives, it remains clear that Congress is far from a consensus on many aspects of a funding plan.

Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said he favors moving toward a vehicle miles-traveled (VMT) tax to fund a highway program. He is not in favor of raising the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993.

Although a VMT approach would more accurately assess the costs for using transportation assets, others balk at the idea of tracking the number of miles that people travel in order to assess the levy.

Still others, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and former PA Gov. Ed Rendell, believe the gas tax should be raised immediately. Rendell called for raising it by 10 cents and indexing it to inflation. Read more


Transportation funding remains states’ problem

July 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on Transportation funding remains states’ problem
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We don’t like to rain on anyone’s parade, but we’re a little puzzled with the accolades flying around regarding Congress’ approval of a 27-month federal highway funding bill last week.

Granted, these days any measure that draws bipartisan support is probably noteworthy.  But to call it – as the Obama administration did – “a good, bipartisan bill that will create jobs, strengthen our transportation system and grow our economy” is an exaggeration.

Yes, a 27-month measure is better than yet another short-term extension, of which there had been nine since the expiration of the most recent multi-year funding bill.  The expired measure had been in place for six years – long enough to enable the highway construction industry to make longer-term plans and commitments, including investing in equipment and developing the work force.  Two years?  Not so much. Read more


Washington drops transportation funding ball again

March 27, 2012 by · Comments Off on Washington drops transportation funding ball again
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Events in Washington the last two weeks provide further evidence of the need for states to take transportation funding needs into their own hands.

Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House succeeded in killing a Senate-passed $109 billion, two-year measure that would have supported nearly 3 million jobs.  The Senate bill passed by a 74-22 vote with bipartisan sponsorship and support.

Instead, House Republicans introduced legislation to continue funding at its current level for 90 days.  If such a measure were approved, it would make the ninth extension since the most recent multi-year federal funding bill expired more than two years ago. Read more


ARTBA provides 2012 national outlook

December 13, 2011 by · Comments Off on ARTBA provides 2012 national outlook
Filed under: Video