Price Tag For Fixing I-83 Congestion Is Out Of Reach

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in th...

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in the south central part of the of . Red denotes the Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re jumping onto Interstate 83 North using the New Cumberland ramp, just south of the 83 split, there’s a secret to surviving the experience.

For the uninitiated, the ramp starts at a stoplight and heads up a small hill, blindly leading drivers onto a congested, two-lane highway.  The merge zone can be measured in hands, not feet.

The key is to hammer the accelerator heading up the ramp, and whisper a silent prayer that a gold Buick isn’t stopped at the top.

If you time it right, you’ll hit highway speeds about the same time as you hit the road, which, if everything goes according to plan, allows you to slip into traffic between two tractor-trailers.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/i-83_york_split_eisenhower_int.html#incart_flyout_news

Legislators: Montco, SE Pa. Need More Transportation Funding

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is obvious.  Just try and drive to work in Montgomery County. Traffic is horrendous!

WHITEMARSH ­­— The House Democratic Policy Committee held a two-hour Wednesday morning at the township building to draw attention to the need to increase transportation funding in the region.

The general consensus among the experts offering testimony was that Pennsylvania, and Southeastern Pennsylvania in particular, needs more state funding for mass transit, road and bridge repairs.

State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-148th Dist., said Whitemarsh is a center of transportation with major roadways including Germantown Pike and Ridge Pike and six train stations on the regional rail lines.  Daley moderated the hearing.

“I have been a SEPTA rider my entire life,” Daley said. “I’m not sure what it would be like to not have public transportation.  It is a really flexible system that benefits the area.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130731/NEWS03/130739823/legislators-montco-se-pa-need-more-transportation-funding#full_story

SEPTA Ridership At All-Time High

SEPTA logo

SEPTA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA commuter trains had more passengers than ever in the year that ended June 30, carrying just over 36 million riders, SEPTA officials said Monday.

The trend was mirrored nationwide, as public transit in general and trains in particular have been gaining riders in recent years.

High gas prices, congested highways, relatively low fares, and a growing preference among young people for transit have all contributed to the rising number of passengers, transportation officials said Monday.

SEPTA Regional Rail trains carried 36.0 million riders, up from 35.3 million in fiscal 2012 and above the previous record of 35.5 million in 2008.  As recently as 1993, SEPTA carried just 19.2 million riders.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130723_SEPTA_ridership_at_all-time_high.html#IwbTqaSRLXv0KHyh.99

Pittsburgh Bridges A Showcase Of Engineering Ingenuity

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)

Modern bridges are super-sized paths of steel with carpets of concrete that soar through the air.

As tour de forces of design, engineering and teamwork, bridges are our most functional visible form of public art. These sturdy structures afford us breathtaking views of the region while stoking our sense of optimism. From their portals, we cross deep ravines, wide valleys and rivers, especially rivers.

With a total of 446 bridges, Pittsburgh is a permanent showcase of inspired engineering.  Its rugged topography has made it a hotbed of bridge design since the city was named in 1758, and the region’s hills and geological formations afforded the natural resources, including wood and stone, to build the bridges needed to connect it.

The city’s first span, opened in 1818, crossed the Monongahela River on the site of the current Smithfield Street Bridge.  The first Sixth Street Bridge spanned the Allegheny River just a year later, ushering in a generation of covered wooden bridges.  Until the late 1800s, everyone — whether in a horse-drawn wagon or on foot — paid tolls to cross the city’s major bridges.  We still pay today — our tax dollars fund multimillion-dollar PennDOT projects.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/lifestyle/pittsburgh-bridges-a-showcase-of-engineering-ingenuity-696224/#ixzz2ZfxMNSfF

PA Turnpike To Be Widened From Valley Forge To Downingtown

Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchang...

Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has picked a construction manager for a $480 million road-widening project between the Valley Forge and Downingtown interchanges.

Hill International of Marlton, N.J., will be paid $17.1 million to manage the project. Roadwork is expected to begin in the summer of 2014 and will continue into 2020, Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said Wednesday.

The roadwork will be done in two phases, DeFebo said, beginning next summer at the Valley Forge interchange and going west for about six miles.  That work is expected to last about three years, the spokesman said.

Read more:   http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130718/NEWS03/130719320/turnpike-to-be-widened-from-valley-forge-to-downingtown-#full_story

PENNVEST Approves $28M For Harrisburg Sinkhole, Water Treatment Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

HARRISBURG – Nearly $28 million in loans was approved Tuesday morning to fund sinkhole repairs and water treatment upgrades in the capital city.

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority board unanimously approved financing applications from the city and The Harrisburg Authority at its meeting Tuesday.

The Harrisburg Authority is getting $26.9 million; the city, $900,000.

The city’s loan is conditional on transferring ownership of infrastructure to The Harrisburg Authority.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/pennvest_approves_28m_for_harr.html#incart_river_default

Corbett: Gas-Line Project Fuels Jobs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Monroe County

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

SWIFTWATER — Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday’s announcement to extend the Route 6/11 Corridor Natural Gas Line is about creating and attracting jobs but, more important, he said it’s about retaining jobs already in Pennsylvania.

Corbett visited the campus of Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi in Monroe County, to announce the $5 million extension project, made possible in part through the recent release of a $5 million Economic Growth Initiative grant.

While Corbett said the project is expected to boost job creation and retention in the Northeast Pennsylvania region, he said by lowering utility costs to large employers such as the vaccine maker the 2,000 jobs at the Swiftwater facility — plus 500 contractor positions — are likely to stay.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/678739/Corbett:-Gas-line-project-fuels-jobs

Troubled Bridge Project A Headache, Wilkes-Barre Resident Says

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — One resident of the city’s Miners Mills section thinks the city jumped the gun by knocking down a bridge and cutting off the regular flow of traffic in the largely residential neighborhood.

Joe Gibbons Jr., of Coon Street, said the Sydney Street Bridge replacement project has been unattended for about two weeks. The span crossed Mill Creek.

Contractors closed the Coon and Sidney streets three-way intersection and then tore down the bridge in preparation for the reconstruction — now stalled because of a funding mixup.

Coon runs parallel with North Washington Street and connects Beatty and Sidney streets.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/645753/Troubled-bridge-project-a-headache-W-B-resident-says

Pennsylvania Transportation Chief: Bridges To Get Weight Limits

In the weeks leading up to the state budget deadline, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch threatened to put weight limits on 1,120 bridges if Gov. Tom Corbett’s plans to raise new revenue for road and bridge repair were not approved.

But on Sunday, the Legislature did what Schoch feared.  It approved a 2013-14 budget that left Corbett’s proposal in the dust.

As a result, the transportation chief plans to make good on his threat, according to PennDOT officials.

Twenty-six of the identified spans are in Lehigh or Northampton counties, including the Route 22 bridge over the Lehigh River in Whitehall Township.

Weight limits can preclude heavy trucks, fire engines and even school buses from using bridges, depending on bridge size and capacity.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-bridge-weight-restrictons-20130705,0,7683963.story#ixzz2YHLsv9iS
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Our Take: Here’s Hoping For A Wider I-83

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

When a bill is working its way through the Legislature, the specific details should often be taken with a grain of salt as they are fine-tuned and tweaked on the way to being implemented.

But when several of York County‘s state legislators recently outlined some projects that could be funded through Pennsylvania’s transportation bill, we couldn’t help but cross our fingers and toes, and pull out the lucky rabbit’s foot in hopes of one project coming to fruition:

The widening of Interstate 83.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz and state Rep. Mike Waugh released several projects that could be funded through a $2.5 billion transportation bill that has already passed the state Senate.  It will now be discussed by the state House and would need approval from Gov. Tom Corbett.

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/opinion/ci_23543180/our-take-heres-hoping-wider-i-83

Economic Development Coalition Begins Long Journey To Revive Greater Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

What should Berks County’s economy look like in 10 or 20 years?

That’s what eight economic-development and workforce groups explored when they collaborated on the Ride to Prosperity report three years ago. The group wanted to create a greater Reading where residents are more prosperous and happy to live here, where businesses are more innovative and there’s more opportunities.

To start the work, the group filled the report with specific action items that could be done in three to five years.

Three years later, the group has checked some big items off the weighty to-do list.  Berks Park 78 became shovel-ready and attracted three tenants.  A fast-track development program has moved several projects through an express-lane approval process.  Key players stress the importance of eight economic and municipal groups working together for a common goal: a stronger and prosperous economy.

Read more:  http://businessweekly.readingeagle.com/economic-development-coalition-begins-long-journey-to-revive-greater-reading/

Expanding Suburbia: Route 39 In West Hanover Township Primed To Grow Over Next Several Years

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

It’s hard to miss the signs pointing to Route 39‘s future north of Hershey in West Hanover Township.

Some of them are quite large and aligned toward the road.

While the names are all different — High Associates, Brownstone, Landmark Commercial Reality, among them — the message is pretty standard: “Available.”

In West Hanover Township, Route 39, also known as Hershey Road, is open for business.

What used to be rural farmland and rolling green hills is once again quickly becoming dotted with new developments and “For Sale” signs as two lines of force converge along Route 39.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/expanding_suburbia_route_39_in.html#incart_river_default

PA Senate Passes $2.5 Billion Transportation Funding Package

Four months after hearing Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for a transportation funding plan in his budget address to the Legislature, the Senate delivered one mightily.

By a 45-5 vote, the Senate today approved a transportation funding plan that not only raises the $1.8 billion by 2018 that Corbett wanted.  It goes $700 million beyond that.

The measure now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.  Its fate is uncertain in the House because of the cost implications on consumers.

All midstate senators voted in favor of the legislation.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/senate_passes_25_billion_trans.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Pennsylvania’s Bad Roads Costly To Drivers

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

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

Two out of every three major urban roads in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region are in poor or mediocre condition, underscoring the transportation dilemma the state faces, according to a report released Wednesday by a national transportation organization.

And using those roads is costing the average driver an additional $1,320 per year in extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays.

The report, “Future Mobility in Pennsylvania: The Cost of Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Pennsylvania:

• Thirty seven percent of major roads and highways provide motorists with a rough ride.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/554650/Pa.s-bad-roads-costly-to-drivers

Studies On 2 Berks Highways To Shape Work Plans

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Studies to find out what it would take to make two of Berks County’s most-congested highways a quicker go are now underway.

PennDOT consultants are examining the seven-mile stretch of Route 222 between the Kutztown Bypass in Maxatawny Township and the Trexlertown Bypass in Lehigh County to see how much it would cost to widen it to four lanes.

At the same time, another team is looking at the West Shore Bypass between Wyomissing and Exeter Township to determine what changes could improve traffic flow.

Both studies were discussed Thursday during a meeting of the Reading Area Transportation Study, the panel that plans how state and federal transportation funds are spent in Berks.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474858

NEPA Lagging In Bicyclist-Friendly Roadways

WILKES-BARRE — The desire for more bicycle-friendly paths in Luzerne County — from lanes on roads to other areas designated specifically for cyclists — is strong, according to enthusiasts.

The ability to implement them, many advocates have found, is not as robust.  Cycling enthusiasts say Northeastern Pennsylvania is behind the times in welcoming

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to share the road, even though they have a legal right in the commonwealth.

“We’re way behind the rest of the world as far as having the facilities to be able to ride, especially on the road,” said Louie Colarusso, a bike technician at Sickler’s Bike and Sport Shop in Exeter.  “The majority of cities in America have bike lanes, and in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton you’re taking your life in your hands every time.”

Phil Cable, store manager of Sickler’s, said he lives in the borough and bikes to work when possible.  Drivers are generally friendly, but sharing the road is a two-way street.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/444128/NEPA-lagging-in-bicyclist-friendly-roadways

Montgomery County Issues $55M In Bonds For Infrastructure Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — The Montgomery County Commissioners issued $55 million in bonds this week to address some county infrastructure projects.

While it does not address every item on a long laundry list of infrastructure needs throughout the county, the issuance of the bond addresses a good part of those needs without increasing the county’s current debt service over the next decade, according to the county’s top money manager.

“The bond sale received strong interest from underwriting firms with 10 banks submitting aggressive bids,” said Uri Monson, the county’s chief financial officer.

The commissioners approved the bond ordinance last month. Monson said the bonds were sold through a competitive sale process via an online bid service.  The winning bidder was PNC Capital Markets, with a True Interest Cost (TIC) of 2.39 percent.  The reported difference between the lowest bid and the next lowest bid was .017 percent.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130405/NEWS01/130409500/montgomery-county-issues-55m-in-bonds-for-infrastructure-projects#full_story

Pennsylvania Transportation Performance Report 2013

Here’s basically what the report is about:

“On behalf of our “Board of Directors,” the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission (STC), please
accept this first edition of the Transportation Performance Report.  It provides a snapshot of the transportation system’s current status, performance within current resources, and potential for progress as
we move forward.  The report showcases various data and trends.  It also includes actions taken thus far
in response to the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report, presented to Governor Corbett
in August 2011.”

The report is very interesting and will give you a good idea of what’s going on in our state.  This will take a minute or so to download as it is a large file, but the format is nice and it’s an easy read with graphs and pictures to help illustrate what is being said.

Click here:  ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/Bureaus/Cpdm/STC/TPR%20FINAL%202-7-13.pdf

Amtrak’s Regulars Treasure The Pennsylvanian

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnsto...

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnstown train station in Johnstown, . The train is Amtrak’s #42 Pennsylvanian. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABOARD THE AMTRAK PENNSYLVANIAN — The steady rumble of steel wheels on tracks is punctuated by the wail of a locomotive horn and then, oddly, by the pop of a champagne cork.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and Amanda McCoy and Kim Christen are living it up in the cafe car. On the table are boxes of a Polish pastry called paczki, orange juice and a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

It’s mimosa time.

Ms. McCoy, of Indiana Township, and Ms. Christen, of West View, also have bread, garlic bologna, lettuce, tomato and a travel Scrabble set for the long ride. “We’re veterans,” Ms. McCoy says. “We know how to do it.”

Like many others aboard the train, they swear by it, and recoil at the possibility that the one daily Amtrak train serving Pittsburgh and Harrisburg will be eliminated in October.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/amtraks-regulars-treasure-the-pennsylvanian-675749/#ixzz2LDMwXNd9

Suburban Areas Becoming More Convenient, City-Like

English: Text that accompanies the ULI logo.

English: Text that accompanies the ULI logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past two decades, suburban areas have been making a slow transition from car-dependent to people-oriented design, with more options for walking, cycling or public transportation, according to Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization.

ULI recently published a report, “Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development,” detailing how this change is mostly driven by generation Y, who favor the convenience of urban-style living in more densely populated areas.

The U.S. population is expected to increase by 95 million in the next 30 years, and most of the growth will occur in suburban towns, which makes smart suburban land use essential to growth. But redeveloping these areas is harder in practice than in theory, according to the report.

Read more:   http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/Suburban_areas_becoming_more_convenient_urban-like.html