One of the reasons PA lawmakers finally addressed the need for a comprehensive transportation funding solution was that we learned how to talk about the issue in ways that connected with the public and that ultimately attracted broad support.
Our polling showed consistently that nearly 60 percent of the public – registered voters, actually – were willing to make a modest investment – $2.50 or more per week – to improve safety and relieve congestion on our transportation system.
Many of these improvements did not require a lot of money. You’ve probably read a lot, including here, about the high tech traffic signals that sense the flow of traffic and adapt to it to move it along more efficiently. It’s the kind of improvement that can relieve congestion at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars rather than the millions that would be required to build additional lanes of roads and highways.
Last week, we ran across an item (linked below) that features lower-cost solutions to improving safety. Clearly PennDOT heard the message about the wise use of the resources it receives from the increased Oil Company Franchise Tax and license and registration fees and is doing a good job of improving safety and relieving congestion while managing costs.
We also ran across a second article telling us that the attention to safer cars and better driving habits are paying off in terms of significant increases in bringing traffic deaths to an all-time low. We hope you’ll enjoy those articles in the first two links below.
Transportation Issue Update
As we have often mentioned, projects that improve highway safety don’t necessarily need to be expensive. One example is a high tension cable median barrier PennDOT is installing along I-81 in Cumberland and Franklin counties.
The good news is that sturdier vehicles, crash-avoidance technology and lower-tech solutions such as cable median barriers and rumble strips are having the desired effect. Fewer traffic deaths occurred in Pennsylvania last year than any other year since record keeping began, in 1928.
In Washington, Congress continues to dither on addressing transportation funding needs as the game clock ticks down toward May 31.
The Patriot-News continued to urge Congress to step up and do its part following Pennsylvania’s enactment of a transportation funding measure in 2013.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell and PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale added their voices in urging Congress to Act. They appeared at a public transportation conference in Lancaster.
“If you build it, they will come” worked out pretty well in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” but what about a rail service between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre? Officials in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties have asked PennDOT to help find the answer.
State Rep. John Taylor, Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said automated enforcement of speed limits in work zones and ignition interlock systems for first-time drunken driver offenses are two measures that could boost safety for the driving public.
PennDOT highway projects generally get the lion’s share of attention, but here’s a reminder that local governments also manage sizeable improvements as well. The second phase of a project that eventually will make it easier to get in and out of Morristown is underway now.
The Patriot-News published a long article, with terrific photos, regarding the tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
As part of its public-private partnership initiative, PennDOT is accepting unsolicited P-3 proposals through the end of this month.
The interactive online public meeting to discuss PennDOT’s long-term transportation plan was held last week. PennDOT and the State Transportation Commission will continue to look for your input through May 29 with an online survey that can be accessed at www.talkpatransportation.com.