Last week, national and state traveling memorials to people who have lost their lives in highway work zone crashes came through Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, a somber reminder to respect the need for safety in areas where construction is in progress.
Speeding and distracted driving are factors in most work zone crashes, and PennDOT, the Turnpike Commission and the highway construction industry work hard to raise public awareness of the issue. While advanced engineering and technology are combining to reduce serious injuries and fatalities in crashes across the country, safety in work zones continues to be a challenge.
Act 89 increased revenue for highway projects, leading to an increase in the number of work zones. The General Assembly is considering several pieces of legislation aimed at improving work zone safety.
Last week, the Coalition sent letters to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation urging members to consider a federal transportation funding mechanism similar to that provided for in Act 89 of 2013. That mechanism removed the flat tax that had been administered at the pump and moved the collection point to the wholesale level, streamlining collection and ensuring some revenue growth to account for inflation. To view the letter, click here.
Transportation Issue Update
- A joint House-Senate Transportation Committee hearing took up several pieces of legislation designed to improve work zone safety.
- A feasibility study for the Scranton Beltway project is nearly complete. It would divert 20,000 to 25,000 drivers per day from I-81.
- Wondering whether it makes sense to convert your fleet to natural gas or propane? A new state report says it behooves you to take a look.
- Our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia have issued the “Vision Zero” report, aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities through a multi-agency approach to road safety.
- The U.S. House approved an $8 billion extension of federal transportation funding until December in an effort to prevent an interruption in the nation’s infrastructure spending at the end of the month. It would make the 34th short-term solution since 2005.
- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water Wednesday on a bipartisan plan to use revenue from tax reform to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, saying that while tax reform might be a good idea, there isn’t enough time to craft comprehensive tax policy before the July 31 deadline to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund.
- Meanwhile, a Republican congressman has proposed increasing the federal gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, then offsetting it with a federal income tax credit.
- The PA Turnpike Commission will take the first step toward eliminating all cash tolls when it opens its first all-electronic toll facility in Bucks County in January.
- PA Turnpike tolls will increase by 6 percent at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 3. Although the percentage increase is the same for cash and E-Z Pass customers, the latter will still enjoy a discount of around 35 percent.