Where Joseph Borucki sees destruction and expense, Scott Kleiger sees liquid gold.
Borucki, a Mount Laurel lawyer, just spent $500 to fix a wheel bearing damaged by a pothole. For him, every drive has become a slalom run around road craters.
Kleiger, a Harleysville entrepreneur, operates a fleet of specially equipped trucks that fill potholes in seconds, and this is his high season.
“It’s like our birthday!” Kleiger exulted last week, watching one of his Pothole Killer trucks back up traffic for a half-mile on U.S. 1 in Bucks County as it squirted a warm mix of asphalt and cement into hole after hole. “It’s a very good time!”
The billions of dollars for road projects in the new state transportation law isn’t the only factor that could speed up traffic on Pennsylvania highways.
Deep in the details of the new law is a provision raising the state’s maximum speed limit to 70 mph. Some roads could see higher speed limits by next summer, PennDOT said.
Speed limits will not automatically jump around the state. But PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike officials now have the option to increase the limits on a case-by-case basis.
The agencies must study safety and traffic on the roads to determine if they can accommodate a higher limit.
“It’s probably going to take at least six months to do this,” said Rich Kirkpatrick, acting PennDOT press secretary. “Drivers will not likely see any changes before the end of June.”
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.
Editor’s note: Who ever thought we would see PennDOT and efficiency in the same sentence!
Extra taxes and fees aren’t the only tricks PennDOT has up its sleeves to round up more money for road projects.
The agency’s also turning to some less obvious solutions to its funding woes, such as mail-sorting machines and more durable highway paint.
PennDOT’s put together a list of technology investments, policy changes and other tweaks it thinks could save the state $50 million to $75 million a year and, in some cases, make the agency a little more pleasant to deal with.
The anticipated savings are a drop in the bucket compared with the $3.5 billion gap between available funding and the state’s transportation needs. But it’s something.