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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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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Rising Gas Prices, Fees Taking Toll

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

FORTY FORT, PA — Mary Cebrick, a senior citizen from Swoyersville who lives on a fixed income, said the increase in gasoline prices will hurt her pocketbook.

“You better believe it will,” she said while waiting for her car to be repaired at Joe Kristan’s Forty Fort Lube and Service on Wyoming Avenue on Thursday morning. “But I guess we can’t do anything about it. I just hope the money goes to where it’s supposed to — to fix the roads and bridges.”

Cebrick was reacting to higher prices at the gas pump, caused most recently by higher wholesale state taxes on gasoline and diesel that went into effect Wednesday — the first of three increases being imposed by a new law. The law lifted the cap on the wholesale fuel tax dating back to 2006.

State gasoline taxes increased by 9.5 cents per gallon, while diesel taxes are up by almost 13 cents per gallon. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the Pennsylvania gas average was $3.48 per gallon this week, up 5 cents in the last week. Diesel was $4 per gallon.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1096562/Rising-gas-prices-fees-taking-toll

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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Bridges Are On Replacement List

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state’s $2.4 billion transportation funding law will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to use its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project on at least 200 more bridges than originally planned.

Among the 998 bridges eligible for replacement are eight in Luzerne County, seven in Lackawanna County and four in Wyoming County.

The project that will reconstruct at least 500 structurally deficient bridges of similar design across the state involves PennDOT reaching out to the private sector to submit statements of qualification.

Erin Waters, a PennDOT spokeswoman, said those interested in bidding must submit their statements of qualifications to the agency by Jan.31.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1052771/Area-bridges-are-on-replacement-list

PennDOT Plans $46 Million Route 6 Project To Start In July

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

A 7.8 mile stretch of Route 6 between Clarks Summit and the Wyoming County line is scheduled for a three-plus-year, $46 million overhaul starting this summer.

James May, a state Department of Transportation spokesman, said the work will be among the three largest ongoing transportation projects planned in PennDOT‘s six-county District 4 in 2014.

“It’s just a really old road, and a lot of the bridges along there are old or structurally deficient,” Mr. May said. “We’re going to go in and just do it all at once.”

Route 6, which is also Route 11 along that stretch, was constructed in the 1950s. Today, Mr. May estimated 7,000 vehicles travel in both directions every day along the deteriorating thoroughfare that PennDOT officials plan to restore.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/penndot-plans-46-million-route-6-project-to-start-in-july-1.1594377

Montgomery County Holds Line On Taxes In 2014

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PAMontgomery County will balance its 2014 budget without raising taxes, according to Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson.

It will be second straight year tax rates in the county have not been raised, Monson told the county commissioners Thursday.

The county projects $371,510,842 in total revenues and $371,473,973 in expenditures for 2014, with a year-end operating surplus of $36,869 in the general fund budget, Monson said.

The county also expects to have just over $41 million in the fund balance at the end of the year, he said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/government-and-politics/20131122/montgomery-county-holds-line-on-taxes-in-2014

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Officials: Transportation Will Suffer With Bill’s Defeat

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Commuter rail service is likely to be cut next year, and Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges will continue to deteriorate, transportation officials said Tuesday, following the narrow legislative defeat of a major transportation funding increase.

Most lawmakers from southeastern Pennsylvania supported the funding measure, but eight area Democrats and five Republicans voted against it. And a key supporter, Rep. Louise Bishop (D., Phila.), was out sick, the only legislator not voting on the measure, which was defeated 103-98 Monday night.

Supporters of the bill, which would have increased gas taxes and motorists’ fees to provide about $2.4 billion in additional funding, said negotiations were continuing Tuesday to try to revive the bill, which was one of Gov. Corbett’s key legislative priorities.

Republican opponents cited the increased taxes and fees as a prime reason for their “no” votes, while Democratic opponents said they objected to a provision that would have increased the prevailing-wage exemption on government construction projects, which some labor unions opposed.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20131120_Officials__Transportation_will_suffer_with_bill_s_defeat.html#QyFtCBDquPww1RMr.99

Budget Preparations Getting Started In Pottstown Borough

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Although Pottstown Borough Council has yet to be presented with a budget draft, the members of council’s finance committee have.

It is too soon to say if council will be able to avoid raising property taxes for two years in a row, but it is obviously on everybody’s mind.

Councilman Dan Weand, who chairs the finance committee, told council that he likes the way the borough finances are shaping up.

“So far, with 75 percent of the year passed, we’ve brought in 85 percent of the revenue and only seen 74 percent of the expenses,” said Weand.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131019/budget-preparations-getting-started-in-pottstown-borough

Progress Reported In Pa. Transportation Bill Talks

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch and others involved in discussions on a massive transportation bill said Thursday they have been encouraged by recent discussions but cautioned that no deal has been reached.

Schoch said talks with Democrats and Republicans in the state House are the “correct way to find a solution,” although a number of issues remain unresolved.

“At this point it will succeed or fail, but I’m confident it will be well-vetted,” Schoch said. “If it doesn’t work, that way I’ll at least know I gave it the best shot we could to get it done.”

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, recently delayed a House vote on a Senate-passed, $2.5 billion-a-year package. At the request of Gov. Tom Corbett, he said the vote would occur next week, giving the administration more time to seek a deal.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516205

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Deficient Bridges Won’t Be Quick Fix

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly one of every four bridges in Northeastern Pennsylvania is structurally deficient, a Times-Shamrock Newspapers analysis found.

And, because of decades of neglect, repairing those bridges “will take years to catch up,” a local transportation expert said – even if state lawmakers approve a transportation bill this fall.

“Once a bridge gets to be 50 to 60 years old, you can’t go in and just patch it,” Thomas Lawson, co-chairman of the Focus 81 Committee, said.

Interactive: Search for the most deficient bridges in NEPA

Instead, numerous bridges around the region, which has more deteriorating bridges than the state average, will require superstructure overhauls “at minimum,” he said.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/region-s-deficient-bridges-won-t-be-quick-fix-1.1520394

Penn Street Bridge On The Route To Restoration

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

For the century that the Penn Street Bridge has carried traffic into Reading, not much work other than small-scale repairs have been done to it.

It shows.

Chunks of concrete are missing from its extravagant arches and railings. But more concerning to PennDOT is the deterioration to the beams, deck and supports inside the bridge.

PennDOT plans to start a massive repair in the next couple of years intended to restore Reading’s iconic gateway to its former glory.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=492075

1,364 Pennsylvania Bridges Face Weight Limits Unless Repaired

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The ...

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Allegheny River (left) and the Monongahela River (right) join to form the Ohio here. The West End Bridge crosses the Ohio in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh is among nearly 1,400 state-owned bridges that could be posted with weight restrictions in the next few years if the Legislature fails to enact a transportation funding bill, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Gov. Tom Corbett is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh today to press his case for funding, and he will hold a news conference under the 2,700-foot-long Liberty Bridge crossing the Monongahela River.  The bridge is in need of rehabilitation estimated to cost $40 million to $60 million, but PennDOT doesn’t have the money.

The department has identified 1,364 bridges statewide that could have weight restrictions soon if they aren’t repaired, rehabilitated or replaced.  The list, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, contains about 400 bridges already posted with weight limits, but also includes several that are under construction now or will be soon, removing them from being at risk.

The Liberty Bridge is the biggest of 49 bridges in Allegheny County that are on the PennDOT list and not funded for rehabilitation or replacement.  Twelve of the 49 already have weight limits. Others, including the Hulton Bridge spanning the Allegheny River between Harmar and Oakmont and bridges near the Route 51-Route 88 intersection in Overbrook, are funded for replacement starting this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/1364-state-bridges-face-weight-limits-unless-fixed-690705/#ixzz2VY1cFWZL

Interstate 81 Should Reopen In Harrisburg By Tuesday Morning, PennDOT Officials Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

Under ideal circumstances, transportation officials hope to reopen all lanes of Interstate 81 underneath the ramp damaged by last week’s tanker fire by early Tuesday morning.

“Our goal will be [to reopen I-81] for the Tuesday morning rush,” said Mike Keiser, the area district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation during a news conference Sunday at the scene of the fire on I-81, near Exit 67.

“I-81 should be back to full lanes in all directions by Tuesday,” he said.

Keiser also announced the completion of crossover lanes splitting the two westbound lanes of Route 22 into a single eastbound and a single westbound lane.  Access to Harrisburg via the crossover should be available after 4 p.m. Sunday, Keiser said.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/interstate_81_should_be_open_i.html#incart_river_default

Letter May Signal Movement On Keim Street Bridge Project

Editor’s note:  Replacing this bridge won’t happen soon enough!

POTTSTOWN — After being closed to traffic for nearly three years, the Keim Street Bridge project is seeing signs of life.

A letter sent to the borough council invites it to choose a volunteer to participate on a committee that will look at the historical significance of the area surrounding the Keim Street Bridge.

The letter was sent Lansdale based CHRS Inc., a company that specializes in making sure building projects comply with state and federal laws on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

For residents and businesses on both sides of the bridge looking for an end to the waiting period, some movement on the project could finally begin.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130511/NEWS01/130519888/letter-may-signal-movement-on-keim-street-bridge-project#full_story

Reopened Birdsboro Bridge To Buoy Annual Duck Race, Festival

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Birdsboro will have plenty to celebrate on Saturday during its annual Duck Race and Spring Festival.

In addition to a pet expo, food, games, music and the signature rubber duck race, the community event will celebrate the highly anticipated reopening of the new Hay Creek Bridge.  The span, which crosses the Hay Creek along Main Street (Route 724), was deemed structurally unsound and closed in September for repairs.

The bridge reopened on May 2 and Borough Manager Aaron J. Durso said the impact was immediate.

“It’s nice,” he said.  “It frees up traffic on East and West First Street and opens up the main artery for emergency vehicles and fire police.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=476247

Red Light For Buttonwood Street Bridge Project

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Motorists worried about finding alternate routes between Reading and West Reading while the Buttonwood Street Bridge is closed for two years can relax for now.

Bridge repairs, which were scheduled to start about now, have been delayed for a year.  The work now is slated to begin in April 2014.

The hang-up is due largely to the need to figure out where traffic will go while the bridge is closed and getting all the necessary permits and reviews, said Ryan Hunter, Berks County facilities and operations director.

Various reviews are needed for bridges that cross water, railroad tracks and highways, he said.  Buttonwood Street crosses all three.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=471048

Changing Skyline: Money For Costly Roadwork Would Be Better Spent On Transit

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in 2010, Gov. Christie shocked transportation experts when he canceled construction of a new rail tunnel to Manhattan, one of the nation’s busiest routes.  The project would have doubled capacity, relieving the terrible rush-hour delays that force NJ Transit and Amtrak trains to queue up to snake through two century-old, single-track tunnels.  But Christie argued that the state couldn’t afford its part of the tab, $3 billion to $5 billion, for relieving the rail congestion.

Price wasn’t an issue earlier this month when South Jersey officials boisterously celebrated the start of another project aimed at reducing congestion.  This one will reconstruct the chaotic Camden County interchange where Interstates 295 and 76 converge with Route 42.  Fixing this one trouble spot – or, rather, making it more tolerable – will cost U.S. taxpayers just shy of $1 billion.

The different responses to these projects speak volumes about how our policymakers think about congestion. Highway traffic jams are still considered unacceptable.  But rail commuters routinely make do with antiquated systems that cause regular delays and breakdowns, like the one that left PATCO riders stranded on the Ben Franklin Bridge for 90 minutes during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

What makes the I-295 project stand out is its staggering price tag.  Officials say it will take at least $900 million to untangle the South Jersey interchange – a sum equal to 75 percent of SEPTA’s entire annual operating budget.  Yet it doesn’t appear that New Jersey or federal officials ever stopped to ask, “Is this problem just too expensive to fix?”

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130329_Changing_Skyline__Money_for_costly_roadwork_would_be_better_spent_on_transit.html

Smoother Berks Roads Ahead?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Berks County would enjoy smoother roads and sturdier bridges if the $1.8 billion annual boost to statewide transportation funds Gov. Tom Corbett pitched last week becomes reality, local officials said.

At a minimum, the funds would stop the backlog of bridge and highway repairs needed in Berks from growing, said Alan D. Piper, county transportation planner.

But over time, PennDOT could catch up on repairs and focus on expanding traffic-prone highways such as Route 222 and the West Shore Bypass, he said.

“There’s no doubt that it will be beneficial,” Piper said. “Does it solve all our problems? Probably not. But it’s a gigantic step in the right direction.”

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=451840

Pennsylvania Gasoline Tax May Soon Be Highest In U.S.

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gov. Tom Corbett struck a populist note in this week’s budget address, saying lifting the Oil Company Franchise Tax cap would force oil and gas companies to “pay their fair share.” But the increase will likely be passed onto consumers at the pump and may make Pennsylvania gasoline the most heavily taxed in the nation.

As levied now, the tax is about 9 percent of the price of a gallon of gas, but calculated on a maximum price of $1.25 per gallon, yielding about 20.3 cents. By gradually lifting that cap over time to reflect actual gas prices – already more than double the cap – the amount of the tax paid per gallon could more than double.

Gov. Corbett tried to soften the blow by cutting another state tax on fuel, the excise tax, from 12 cents down to 10 cents.

That could be cold comfort for consumers.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/pa-gasoline-tax-may-soon-be-highest-in-u-s-1.1441386