Auditor General Warns Of Unstable Future for Turnpike

September 13, 2016 by · Comments Off on Auditor General Warns Of Unstable Future for Turnpike
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depasqualeofficialphotoAuditor General Eugene DePasquale audited the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and found potentially troubling news for the state’s comprehensive transportation system if the General Assembly does not address the onerous financial obligations facing the commission.

The audit covered the performance of the turnpike over the past two years, and found that with toll increases, the commission collects between $12 million and $20 million annually; however, DePasquale also noted that the commission has set very high projections for traffic and he does not expect them to be met.

Act 44 of 2007 created the turnpike’s financial dilemma, as it mandated that the commission pay $450 million annually to PennDOT. Act 89 of 2013, the comprehensive multi-modal transportation funding bill, decreases the annual payment to PennDOT to $50 million starting in 2023. Read more


P3 Board approves Turnpike fiber optic cable project

June 17, 2016 by · Comments Off on P3 Board approves Turnpike fiber optic cable project
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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.”



PA Turnpike COO speaks at PHIA Policy Breakfast

May 18, 2016 by · Comments Off on PA Turnpike COO speaks at PHIA Policy Breakfast
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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.”



Turnpike speed limits to increase to 70 mph

April 6, 2016 by · Comments Off on Turnpike speed limits to increase to 70 mph
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70mph2-1Following an 18-month pilot project, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has voted to increase the speed limit on most of the toll road to 70 miles per hour.

The decision will become effective when new speed limit signs are installed.

The pilot project, launched in 2014, involved a 100-mile stretch of the Turnpike from Morgantown to Blue Mountain. The study determined that there was little or no change in the average speed or in collision rates. The 55 mph speed limit in urban areas will remain, and lower speed limits will be posted in work zones as well.

PennDOT is considering raising the speed limit on other highways, including I-80 and I-380. Portions of those highways were part of another pilot program testing a 70 mph limit.

“Our first priority at PHIA is motorist, passenger, and highway worker safety,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We are encouraged that the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT believe the increase will allow everyone to continue to travel safely.”



Turnpike community mourns workers Daniel Crouse and Ronald Heist

March 25, 2016 by · Comments Off on Turnpike community mourns workers Daniel Crouse and Ronald Heist
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PTCMOURNINGOver the weekend, a Turnpike worker and an armed guard were killed by a gunman during an attempted robbery of a teller van at the Fort Littleton interchange.

The worker, Daniel Crouse, had been on the job for fewer than three months; the armed guard, Ronald Heist, was a retired local police officer.

According to authorities, the incident began around 7 a.m. when the assailant, identified as 55-year-old Clarence D. Briggs of Newville, confronted two employees working at a toll booth at the interchange. He displayed a handgun and forced them into a nearby office building, where he attempted to tie them up.

He shot one of the employees when they tried to escape and the security guard that had arrived in the van.  Briggs was fatally shot by state troopers responding to the scene. Read more


Turnpike, PennDOT Challenged By Storm

January 27, 2016 by · Comments Off on Turnpike, PennDOT Challenged By Storm
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snow-jonasRecord-setting Blizzard Jonas proved to be a tough test for Pennsylvania’s snow removal efforts. Hundreds of motorists were trapped on the PA Turnpike as up to three feet of snow accumulated in the mid-state. According to some news accounts, the Turnpike blockage occurred when two westbound tractor trailers collided near the Allegheny tunnels.

Throughout the snow removal process, which will continue through this week in many municipalities, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and Gov. Tom Wolf visited with PennDOT crews and monitored progress. The governor has described PennDOT’s performance as “nearly perfect.”

“PHIA supports any effort to make Pennsylvania’s highways safer, but would also like to applaud the efforts of PennDOT, the National Guard and the Turnpike Commission who worked tirelessly to make sure motorists were kept safe and evacuated as quickly as possible,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “We caution motorists to stay safe for the rest of the week as their local roads are cleared.”



Senate committee OKs work zone speed camera bill

September 29, 2015 by · Comments Off on Senate committee OKs work zone speed camera bill
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safezone_signThe Senate Transportation Committee unanimously advanced a bill that would allow automated enforcement of speed limits in Pennsylvania’s work zones. The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Senate Bill 840, sponsored by Senators David Argall (R-Schuylkill) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks), would establish a five-year pilot program to test the automated enforcement program in active work zones on Interstate highways managed by either PennDOT or the Turnpike Commission. The owners of cars photographed traveling at least 11 miles per hour above the posted speed limit would receive a $100 citation in the mail.  The bill also requires advanced warning signs to be placed in advance of camera usage to alert motorists that automated enforcement is in operation.

If the measure receives Senate approval, it will then be considered by the House before being sent to the governor for final approval.



Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!

September 29, 2015 by · Comments Off on Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!
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On Thursday, October 1, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will turn 75 years old.

PTC75ANNIt’s estimated that about 10,000 people traveled the turnpike in its first few days in 1940 and sent “Greetings from Pennsylvania Turnpike” postcards.

Our turnpike was one of the first superhighways in the country, and was a huge tourist attraction. Before it opened, the commute from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh took seven hours; on the turnpike, it now takes just three-and-a-half hours.

Before the turnpike opened, the only option to travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia was the Lincoln Highway. Now known as U.S. Route 30, it was a mountainous two-lane road that cut through many small municipalities along the way. Read more


Still no widespread speed increase for PA Turnpike, Interstates

July 28, 2015 by · Comments Off on Still no widespread speed increase for PA Turnpike, Interstates
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70-MPH-signLast year, Pennsylvania increased the speed limit to 70 mph on parts of the Turnpike and Interstates 80 and 380 as part of a pilot study, leading many to believe that widespread speed increases were imminent.

However, the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT say they are still studying the impact of the change. So far, they have no definitive conclusion as to whether the increased speed limit is safe or unsafe.PennDOT estimated that the average driver would save approximately 6 minutes per 97 miles on the Turnpike with the speed increase, 5.8 minutes per 88 miles on I-80, and 1.4 minutes per 21 miles on I-380.

Pennsylvania is the 38th state to start moving highway speed limits to 70 mph; West Virginia bumped up its limits back in 1997.

“Whether the maximum speed limit on Pennsylvania highways is 65 or 70 is less important to PHIA than the assurance that the speed is safe on these roads,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “While studies so far have been inconclusive, we believe that PennDOT’s decision will be based on the best and safest use of state highways.”



PennDOT deputy named new Turnpike CEO

December 12, 2012 by · 1 Comment
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PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Administration Mark Compton was named the new CEO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and is set to take the post in February.  Compton is a former member of the PHIA Board of Directors where he served prior to being named PennDOT deputy secretary in 2011. He replaces former CEO Roger Nutt who resigned in October for health reasons.

Compton is no stranger to the highway industry where he served as Director of Government Affairs for American Infrastructure, Inc. prior to continuing his career in the public sector.

To read more about the recent appointment in an article published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, click here.