PennDOT Plans 6-Mile I-81 Widening

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DUNMORE, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to rebuild and widen six miles of Interstate 81 from the Luzerne County line to the Central Scranton Expressway.

But that’s not expected to happen anytime soon.

According to information from PennDOT spokesman Mike Taluto, the project is at least five years away and would take three to four years to complete. The estimated cost is $174 million.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1316029/PennDOT-plans-6-mile-I-81-widening

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PennDOT To Spend More In Fayette, Westmoreland Counties

English: Pennsylvania county map

English: Pennsylvania county map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state is primed to pump approximately $33.8 million in additional money into highway and bridge projects in Fayette and Westmoreland counties this year with revenue generated from higher fees paid by motorists.

PennDOT said it would use the revenue from Act 89 to make about 59 miles of improvements to 12 roads in both counties.

In Westmoreland, 40 miles of improvements are planned to Routes 66, 119, 130, 356, 381, 819, 981 and 993 in Allegheny, Donegal, Hempfield, Loyalhanna, North Huntingdon, Penn, Salem, Unity and Washington townships, as well as Greensburg, Jeannette, Irwin, Manor and Trafford.

Those projects are estimated to cost $10.5 million.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/5890090-74/bridge-museum-penndot#ixzz2yKTmZ9oQ
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Columbia Bypass Work Beginning

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When explaining to various officials the problems truck traffic causes in Columbia, Mayor Leo Lutz liked to give tours.

In the basement of Hinkle’s Pharmacy, they could see old brick and mortar being turned to powder, and feel the heavy trucks travel on Locust Street.

On the sidewalks, they could see, hear and feel the trucks rumble by in the center of the historic town.

“Then they knew what we were talking about,” Lutz said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/columbia/news/columbia-bypass-work-beginning/article_d65b79c6-beb7-11e3-9333-001a4bcf6878.html

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Lehigh University South Side Initiative Looking To Get Campus Bus Into City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lehigh University runs buses to the Lehigh Valley Mall and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

But not into South Side Bethlehem.

Some at Lehigh are looking to change that. It’s an idea that came out of an open community meeting held last month by Lehigh’s South Side Initiative.

“So many here at Lehigh depend on the bus or the bus system that wraps through the upper and lower campus,” said John Pettegrew, the initiative’s director. “It would just be a practical addition to include a route that goes into Third Street and possibly SteelStacks or any other destinations.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/04/lehigh_university_south_side_i.html

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Cuts In Suburban Pittsburgh Bus Routes Changed Lives

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple years ago, when Gloria Jefferson of McKeesport wanted to go somewhere, she walked to a bus stop near her house.

Then, in 2011, her commute became much less convenient. During a round of cuts to fix a budget deficit, the Port Authority canceled her route, which ran through the middle of McKeesport. Now, Ms. Jefferson, who is 80, has to walk a mile downhill to another stop.

The walk is tough for her, especially when she’s carrying grocery bags. Sometimes, she pays for a ride there or avoids going places. She wonders whether she’ll still be able to make the walk when she gets older.

“Right now, I feel good. How long it’s going to last, I don’t know,” she said. “I keep on praying that one day they’ll turn it around and bring the bus back up the hill.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/04/06/Cuts-in-suburban-bus-routes-changed-lives/stories/201404060065#ixzz2y9vjCoPz

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Planner: Despite $90 Million Cost, Route 222 Widening Not A Return To Big PennDOT Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday evening, just as it is most evenings, traffic was backed up as drivers coming from U.S. 30 waited to merge onto Route 222 in Manheim Township.

Friday morning, just as it is most weekday mornings, the Route 222 traffic backed up merging onto U.S. 30.

The situation is nothing new to PennDOT.

With additional money coming from the new state transportation law, state Transportation Department officials will soon begin looking for ways to address the problem.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/conestogavalley/news/planner-despite-million-cost-route-widening-not-a-return-to/article_de7c88b6-bc32-11e3-a1a1-001a4bcf6878.html

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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Last Year’s Gridlock Looms Large Over Pirates’ Opener

PNC Park

PNC Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fans arriving for Opening Day on Monday will be getting an earlier start to tailgating around PNC Park, and so will police hoping to avoid last year’s gridlock — but not by much.

Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said officers assigned to ease congestion and operate signals at the busiest intersections will start arriving at their posts at 10:30 a.m., at least 45 minutes earlier than last year.

But this year’s first pitch is about a half-hour earlier, about 1 p.m. Parking lots and garages open to tailgaters at 9 a.m., and the ballpark gates open at 11. Officials urge fans to have patience, use mass transit or park farther away from the ball field.

“If people can curtail their excitement with a little bit of patience, we’ll be able to help them get where they need to go,” Toler said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5830137-74/parking-pirates-fans#ixzz2xYokJ1U5
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Pennsylvania Turnpike To Raise Tolls In 2015

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrenda...

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrendale (30) Toll Stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania Turnpike drivers can expect another toll increase of at least 3 percent next January, and continuing annual increases for years to come, turnpike CEO Mark Compton said Thursday.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Airport Corridor Transportation Association, Mr. Compton said the state’s new transportation funding law has shortened, but not eliminated, the turnpike’s requirement to pay $450 million a year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Instead of continuing to 2057, the required payments will end after 2022, he said. Toll increases are needed to underwrite the debt incurred by the turnpike in making those payments.

In the past, PennDOT has directed $200 million from each payment to non-turnpike highway projects and $250 million to mass transit. The new law directs all of the $450 million to transit.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/03/28/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-to-raise-tolls-in-2015/stories/201403280114#ixzz2xHOq34iN

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Amtrak Boss Stresses Higher Speeds On Northeast Corridor

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS ...

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS topos. Legend: Red – Amtrak ownership Blue – NEC commuter services and NEC commuter rail agency ownership Black – off-NEC Amtrak lines not owned by Amtrak Green – stations on the NEC (Amtrak only) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Amtrak’s planned new Acela Express trains will carry more passengers and be more reliable than the current ones, even if they won’t travel much faster, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said Thursday.

Amtrak is seeking proposals, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, for new high-speed trains that can run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and 160 miles an hour on the Northeast Corridor.

Proposals from train-builders are due by May 17. A builder will be selected by the end of the year, Boardman said.

The first of the new Acela trains are supposed to be in service between Washington and Boston by 2018.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140328_Amtrak_boss_stresses_higher_speeds_on_Northeast_Corridor.html#v1btxHH7FQXZeq6R.99

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Police Cracking Down On Aggressive Drivers Across Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONTGOMERY TWP, PA — Along Route 309 in Montgomery Township on Monday afternoon, lights from police cruisers flashed next to an orange “Aggressive Driving Enforcement” sign as every few minutes, a vehicle was directed to pull over by a contingent of township cops who were doling out citations for speeding, tailgating or other traffic infractions spotted moments earlier by officers stationed a half-mile up the road. It was part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s ramped-up efforts — which began on Monday and lasts until May 4 — to crack down on a spectrum of illegal and dangerous driving habits in a big way across the state.

Boyertown police announced their aggressive driving details will continue through Sept. 14.

“We’re here today to raise awareness about the dangers of aggressive driving, and to target those drivers who are causing far too many crashes on the roadways,” said PennDOT spokesman Lou Belmonte at a Monday morning press conference inside the Montgomery Township Building, where he was joined by law enforcement officers and members of the Montgomery County Health Department and Buckle Up PA to announce the first wave of the PennDOT-funded 2014 Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project).

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140325/police-cracking-down-on-aggressive-drivers-across-pa

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Malaysia Says Missing Plane Crashed In Indian Ocean

Malaysia Airlines airplanes at Kuala Lumpur In...

Malaysia Airlines airplanes at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in front a Boeing 777-200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over two weeks ago en route to Beijing, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Monday, citing new satellite data.

All 239 people on board were presumed dead, airline officials said.

Analysis of satellite information from British company Inmarsat had shown that the Boeing 777′s last position was in the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia, Najib said in a statement.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” he said. “It is therefore, with deep sadness and regret, that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/Malaysia_PM_tells_families_of_missing_jet_passengers_plane_is_lost.html#bvv0fUbgsMYoeFff.99

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Super-Size Gas Stations Stir Hostility

The typical gas station of yesterday is a shell of what one looks like today.

Gas stations are twice the size, with more pumps; some have full-service restaurants, small grocery stores and 24-hour operations.

More convenience stores sell gas, too — a 14.2 percent increase to 126,658 locations from 2005 to 2014, according to the National Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing in Alexandria, Va.

In some communities, these mega-stations are hang-out spots on the weekends for the post-nightclub crowd — and they are attracting more opposition in the planning stages from residents who are leery of more traffic, noise, crime and bright lights.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5724398-74/gas-station-stations#ixzz2wkRXN8TE
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Malaysian Airplane Investigators Look At Suicide As Possible Motive

Boeing 777-2H6/ER der Malaysia Airlines am Kua...

Boeing 777-2H6/ER der Malaysia Airlines am Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The co-pilot of a missing Malaysian jetliner spoke the last words heard from the cockpit, the airline’s chief executive said on Monday, as investigators consider suicide by the captain or first officer as one possible explanation for the disappearance.

No trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard. Investigators are increasingly convinced it was diverted perhaps thousands of miles off course by someone with deep knowledge of the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial navigation.

A search unprecedented in its scale is now under way for the plane, covering an area stretching from the shores of the Caspian Sea in the north to deep in the southern Indian Ocean.

Airline chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya also told a news conference that it was unclear exactly when one of the plane’s automatic tracking systems had been disabled, appearing to contradict the weekend comments of government ministers.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/Malaysian_airplane_investigators_look_at_suicide_as_possible_motive.html#yFf2ptqAP5BZVoD6.99

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Satellite Firm Says Its Data From Jet Could Offer Location

English: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 (9M-MRD)

English: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 (9M-MRD) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPANG, Malaysia — As the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet expanded into the daunting vastness of the Indian Ocean, a satellite communications company confirmed on Friday that it had recorded electronic “keep alive” ping signals from the plane after it disappeared, and said those signals could be analyzed to help estimate its location.

The information from the company, Inmarsat, could prove to be the first big break in helping narrow the frustrating search for the plane with 239 people aboard that mysteriously disappeared from radar screens a week ago, now hunted by a multinational array of ships and planes that have fanned out for thousands of square miles.

Inmarsat, a Britain-based satellite communications provider of systems to ships and airplanes, had equipment aboard the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jetliner, said David Coiley, the vice president of the company in charge of the aviation business. The equipment automatically communicates with satellites, much as a mobile phone would automatically connect to a network after passing through a mountain tunnel, he said.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/world/asia/missing-malaysia-airlines-flight-370.html?hpw&rref=world&_r=0

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Mass Transit Ridership In 2013 Highest In 57 Years

Ridership on buses, trains and subways in 2013 was the highest in 57 years, the American Public Transportation Association said Monday.

The growth in transit ridership continued a 20-year trend attributed to higher gasoline prices, a shift by young adults away from automobiles, increased use of mobile technology, and the increasing allure of urban areas.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy.

In 2013, riders made 10.7 billion trips on U.S. public transit systems, up 1.1 percent from 2012. That was the most since 1956.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140311_Mass_transit_ridership_in_2013_highest_in_57_years.html#4DxdR5HbEf6VkPFv.99

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Pennsylvania Woman Was On Board Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONONGAHELA, PA — A company official says a woman based in western Pennsylvania was among the 239 people aboard a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared en route to Beijing over the weekend.

A spokeswoman said Mei Ling Chng, a senior process engineer for Flexsys America in Monongahela near Pittsburgh, “is confirmed to have been on the flight.”

Tracy Kilgore of Flexsys parent firm Eastman Chemical Co., which is based in Kingsport, Tenn., told reporters in an email that officials “are deeply shocked and saddened.”

She said Chng went to work for the chemical company Solutia in Malaysia in 2005 and transferred to Monongahela in 2010.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140310/pa-woman-was-on-board-missing-malaysia-airlines-jet

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$1.4M Grant Will Aid Colebrookdale Railroad Effort

The Colebrookdale Railroad will benefit from $1.4 million in funding made possible by a PennDOT grant aimed at repairing and upgrading the line’s rails, equipment and infrastructure.

The 8.6-mile line between Pottstown and Boyertown recently began carrying freight again and will also be home to The Secret Valley Line historic excursion railroad, opening in the fall.

“Seventy percent of the funding was provided by the state and we had to raise the other 30 percent,” said Nathaniel Guest, president of the non-profit Colebrookdale Railroad Restoration Trust, which oversees the line.

The non-profit group has a for-profit subsidiary, Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, which oversees the freight traffic and was the recipient of the grant.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140309/14m-grant-will-aid-colebrookdale-railroad-effort

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Air Force Chief: Malaysia Jet May Have Turned Back

Boeing 777-2H6/ER der Malaysia Airlines am Kua...

Boeing 777-2H6/ER der Malaysia Airlines am Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back before vanishing, Malaysia’s air force chief said Sunday as authorities were investigating up to four passengers with suspicious identifications.

The revelations add to the uncertainties surrounding the final minutes of flight MH370, which was carrying 239 people when it lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

A massive international sea search has so far turned up no trace of the plane, which lost contact with the ground when the weather was fine, the plane was already cruising and the pilots didn’t send a distress signal – unusual circumstance for a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline to crash.

Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear if they were linked to the missing plane, and no debris was found nearby.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20140309_ap_287ffc62db2748b8a3ccf0a7edf50244.html#kgpE0jJvF3MeOW54.99

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Oil Slicks Found In Hunt For Missing Malaysia Jet

English: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight M...

English: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH138 docked at Adelaide Airport awaiting departure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Vietnamese air force planes on Saturday spotted two large oil slicks close to where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 went missing earlier in the day, the first sign that the aircraft carrying 239 people had crashed.

The air force planes were part of a multinational search operation launched after Flight MH370 fell off radar screens less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday morning.

The oil slicks were spotted late Saturday off the southern tip of Vietnam and were each between 10 kilometers (6 miles) and 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement. There was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.

Two-thirds of the missing plane’s passengers were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20140308_ap_dbcb6cb957af47f2a9af43a6fcc9c652.html#jurFVE7mgOFHoq0K.99

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