Dear KTFC Members & Friends:
Our friends at Associated Pennsylvania Constructors have been working feverishly with PennDOT, the Turnpike Commission, and industry partners to prepare for a restart of the Commonwealth’s highway construction program. Nearly all construction projects were shut down in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Pennsylvania was the only state to do so.
The drawbacks to halting construction activities are many; first and foremost, the loss of income for 50,000 Pennsylvanians working in the construction industry. Secondly, the impact to PennDOT’s capital program will be devastating in the form of the cost of “delay claims” that PennDOT will be contractually obligated to pay idled construction companies. These claims could stretch into hundreds of millions of dollars. Thirdly, the Commonwealth’s unemployment compensation fund will be needlessly strained by claims from out-of-work highway workers who could be productive during this time. Fourth, some of our construction industry companies will be needed to respond to highway related emergencies like sinkholes, slides, accident damage to pavements and bridges, etc., plus with the pothole season upon us, materials will be needed by PennDOT, PA Turnpike and municipal crews.
APC’s board members have been heavily involved in the restart initiative, working with PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission to identify and resolve these and other issues. There are few industries that place as much emphasis on safety and protecting the health and welfare of construction workers and the public alike.
Although a specific date for restarting construction has not been announced, there is hope that it will be soon. The industry wants to make certain that everyone is ready when the restart signal is given.
Be of Good Cheer,
— The Wolff
TRANSPORTATION ISSUE UPDATE
- To avoid spreading the coronavirus, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission closed the Commonwealth’s rest stops and placed portable toilets outside, then reversed the closings after a public backlash.
- The driver license centers, on the other hand, were closed at least through the end of March and remain shut down currently. Consequently, PennDOT extended expiration dates for licenses and registrations. President Trump said he would extend the Oct. 1 deadline for Real ID driver licenses.
- The Turnpike Commission also suspended cash and credit card payment of tolls, switching to its toll-by-plate system, along with E-ZPass.
- So, too, did the Delaware River Port Authority, instituting all-electronic tolling on the Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, Commodore Barry and Walt Whitman bridges.
- Manufacturers and distributors of construction equipment reminded us that suppliers are an important component of the industry, urging Governor Wolf to enable work to resume and noting that they represent 97,000 jobs and contribute nearly $10 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy annually.