This week I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, aka PHIA. It was one of the MOST informative, concise, and thought-provoking programs I have attended in a long time.
The day began with APC’s Bob Latham laying out the industry’s messaging strategy, based on deep-dive market research, followed by PennDOT Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers with an update on autonomous vehicle technology.
PennDOT Deputy Secretary Jim Ritzman then discussed where things stand with transportation funding and the challenge of addressing the diversion of revenue from the Motor License Fund to support State Police operations. Turnpike COO Craig Shuey outlined the financial challenges facing the toll road, with its increasing debt due to its $450 million annual obligation to support public transportation.
Dave Patti, former CEO of the PA Business Council and now with Sacunas, schooled us on the current political environment and what it portends for transportation interests, and the lunchtime program featured a discussion of current events and politics by John Micek, PennLive/Patriot News editorial editor, and ABC 27 news anchor/reporter Dennis Owens.
For anyone who is interested, several of the presentations can be found HERE.
Transportation Issue Update
- The National Highway Safety Administration unveiled a policy outlining safety features for manufacturers and regulation tools for states regarding autonomous vehicles, which was immediately embraced by PA officials.
- PennDOT and SEPTA are teaming up for a multi-modal, $125 million project to reduce traffic congestion along the Schuylkill Expressway.
- Although we’re not completely in agreement with its methodology, the Reason Foundation says Pennsylvania is improving in terms of highway performance and cost effectiveness, moving up to 39th from 41st this year.
The Inquirer published a feature article on Amtrak’s Philly-to-Pittsburgh service, quoting Pittsburgh officials calling for more than the current one trip per day.
- PennLive/The Patriot News was the latest to urge policymakers to address the issue of diverting transportation money to support State Police operations.
- Voters in Illinois and New Jersey will determine whether transportation-related revenues should be restricted for transportation uses, as is the case in Pennsylvania.