As we turn the calendar page to 2015, we welcome new leaders to PennDOT, as well as the House Transportation Committee.
Leslie Richards, a Montgomery County commissioner who serves on the SEPTA and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission boards, was nominated today to serve as PennDOT secretary. She has an impressive background in the private sector, as well as public policy and transportation experience. For more information regarding Ms. Richards, click here.
Governor-elect Tom Wolf also announced that current Secretary Barry Schoch would be retained in a temporary role as a transportation and infrastructure policy senior adviser in the governor’s office and will assist with the continuing implementation of Act 89.
Republican John Taylor and Democrat Bill Keller, both of Philadelphia, were selected as majority and minority chairs, respectively, of the Transportation Committee.
They replace Nick Micozzie and Mike McGeehan, both of whom retired at the end of the 2013-14 legislative session. Among their long lists of career accomplishments was the passage of Act 89, the transportation funding measure, in November 2013.
As was the case with their predecessors, John and Bill are capable, highly respected transportation advocates who are expected to continue the bipartisan leadership tradition of the committee. John, first elected in 1984, most recently chaired the House Liquor Control Committee. Over the years, he has sponsored and supported a wide range of legislation benefitting his constituents. Bill, a House member since 1993, has been involved with the House Democratic Policy Committee and has strong ties in the Philadelphia labor community.
In the Senate, Republican John Rafferty and Democrat John Wozniak continue as committee majority and minority chairs, respectively.
We look forward to productive relationships with PennDOT and both legislative committees and will provide whatever support we can in continuing to improve Pennsylvania’s transportation system.
Be of Good Cheer,
— George Wolff
- If you read none of the other news links below, please check out this very insightful Post-Gazette piece explaining the discrepancy in gasoline prices between Pennsylvania and Ohio (hint: taxes are only part of the reason).
- MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics recently hosted a forum featuring U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
- PennDOT closed the deal to replace 550 bridges through a public private partnership arrangement.
- Congressman Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says he’s ruling out increases in the federal gas tax and other user fees.
- Not all federal lawmakers agree that user fees should be off the table.
- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont says he’ll introduce a bill to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure.
- Pennsylvania’s newest members of Congress say transportation funding is on the top of their lists in the new legislative session.
- The Westmoreland County Transit Authority is moving forward with plans to convert its fleet to natural gas.
- Officials in several western PA counties say they have no plans to levy an additional $5 vehicle registration fee available as part of Act 89.
- PennDOT will replace seven bridges over Philly’s Vine Street Expressway over 4½ years, beginning next month.
- Plans for the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway continues to move forward, thanks to Act 89.
- PennDOT officials also are gearing up for projects in western PA.
- Centre County also weighed in on project plans.
- The Turnpike Commission is exploring options for replacing the Allegheny Tunnels near Somerset. A decision is expected as early as this spring.
- Despite a bump of the equivalent of about a dime a gallon in the Oil Company Franchise Tax, gasoline prices have continued to fall across Pennsylvania.
- A Wall Street Journal analysis says that even though declining gas prices are leaving a few more shekels in our pockets, gas is not really that cheap, historically speaking.
- Turnpike tolls also were increased by 5 percent this month.