House To Vote On Transportation Fee Hikes

House To Vote On Transportation Fee Hikes — The  House Transportation Committee completed a series of public hearings on Senate Bill 1, a multi-year, comprehensive transportation funding plan, reports state Rep. Jim Cox (R-129). The committee received testimony from various stakeholders and industry representatives, including Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and representatives from public transportation systems, construction and engineering interests, agriculture, trucking, rail freight and others.

Senate Bill 1 aims to raise an additional $2.5 billion a year for transportation funding, with an additional $11 billion overall over five years, by proposing to:

–Remove the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which is charged at the wholesale level, over a period of five years.

–Reduce the State Liquid Fuels Tax over a period of four years.

— Make vehicle registrations valid for two years instead of one and increasing the net cost by $32.

— Make driver’s licenses valid for six years instead of four and increasing the net cost by $6.25.

The House Transportation Committee expects to vote on the bill this week.

Pennsylvania has some of the oldest transportation infrastructure in the country, Cox said. The governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission has identified the need for an additional $3.5 billion annually to support maintenance and repair of the state’s roads and bridges, as well as public transportation systems.

You know Jim, ending the prevailing wage requirements might just cut the cost of those infrastructure improvements to the point where we don’t need these burdensome fee hikes.

Just sayin’.

House To Vote On Transportation Fee Hikes

Local Pubs Help Stop Pro-Environmental Law

Local Pubs Help Stop Pro-Environmental Law — An attempt to de-fang the anti-environmental Davis-Bacon Act was defeated, June 5, after 36 Republicans joined all Democrats to vote down an amendment to the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriators bill to bar the use of its funds to enforce the Davis-Bacon  prevailing wage requirements.

The Davis Bacon Act is a 1931  federal law that mandates  paying the local prevailing wages on public works projects over $2,000.

The law inflates the costs of such products by an estimated 15 percent, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This means there is less money to repair bridges, fix roadways and resolve polluting traffic snarls that waste gas and clog our atmosphere.

Just consider that the historic Rose Tree Tavern in Upper Providence was moved back from the intersection of Route 252 and Rose Tree Road in 2004. When is PennDOT going to put in the desperately needed turn lanes? Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to wait until 2017 for an interchange between I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike?

In fact, with less money needed for construction projects maybe we could get rid of the turnpike tolls ending the smog producing toll lanes.

Davis-Bacon is a significant part of the reason for our declining infrastructure.

Here are, courtesy of Bob Guzzardi, the Pennsylvania Republicans that voted against the amendment: Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Pat Meehan (PA-7), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Bill Shuster (PA-9), Lou Barletta (PA-11) and Tim Murphy, (PA-18).

Guzzardi also notes the last year’s vice presidential GOP nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin also opposed the amendment.

And this is why things don’t get better.

Local Pubs Help Stop Pro-Environmental Law

May Motorcycle Month As Proclaimed By Pa.

May Motorcycle Month — Governor Tom Corbett has signed a proclamation to commemorate May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) shows there were nearly 4,000 crashes involving motorcycles statewide last year, resulting in 210 fatalities, up from 3,600 crashes and 199 fatalities in 2011.

Motorcyclists can improve their safety on the road by following some simple safety tips, including: wearing a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet, face or eye protection and protective clothing; wearing reflective clothing and putting reflective tape on protective riding gear and the motorcycle; and knowing how to handle a motorcycle in adverse road and weather conditions such as potholes, gravel, and wet or slippery surfaces.

Motorists sharing the road with motorcyclists should also consider some safety tips, including: looking out for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots; allowing more following distance when following a motorcycle; and respecting a motorcycle as a full-size vehicle with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway.

 

May Motorcycle Month

SEPTA Traffic Snarls In Springfield

SEPTA Traffic Snarls In SpringfieldSEPTA Traffic Snarls In Springfield — Work on SEPTA’s Route 101 trolley line caused stop lights to turn steady red on Springfield Road in Springfield this morning, April 24, 2013, leading motorists to make their own traffic rules until police arrived to provide some order. The photo was taken at 10:12 a.m. Police arrived on the scene about 10 minutes later.

 

SEPTA Traffic Snarls In Springfield

Turnpike Commission Ends With HB 1197

Turnpike Commission Ends With HB 1197Turnpike Commission Ends With HB 1197 — Legislation has been introduced last week to abolish the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, following grand jury findings highlighting waste, fraud and abuse within the agency, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).

House Bill 1197 would transfer all operations, maintenance, construction and other responsibilities for the turnpike to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in an effort to streamline government and enhance efficiency.

If enacted, House Bill 1197 would require PennDOT to honor any collective bargaining agreement in existence between the Turnpike Commission and any employee organization. The bill also would assign debt of the outstanding bonds of the Turnpike Commission to the Commonwealth and would allocate turnpike tolls for repayment of the debt.

The Turnpike Commission is currently run by nine executives and is in charge of 545 miles of roadway. By comparison, PennDOT is run by seven executives and manages more than 41,000 miles of roadway.

The bill now awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

 

Turnpike Commission Ends With HB 1197

 

Commuting Costs $9,100 If With Car

Commuting Costs $9,100 If With Car — AAA has calculated that driving to work now costs Americans $9,100 per year. Hey, look at the bright side — 90 million of us have dropped out of the labor force so we don’t have to worry about things like that.

And if you are one of those lucky little guys who work for Regal Entertainment Group, you just had your hours cut back to 29 per week so the company could avoid the Obamacare mandates and stay in business.

That means less driving for you!! Way to go dawg!!!

Thank you Obama voters.

Commuting Costs $9,100 If With Car

Commuting Costs $9,100 If With Car

Bill Kills Turnpike Commission

Bill Kills Turnpike Commission — State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63) will hold a press conference 10 a.m., tomorrow, April 17, to announced legislation “abolishing the PennsylvaniaTurnpike Commission and ceding all responsibility and maintenance of the turnpike to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).”

It’s about time. Kudos to Rep. Oberlander.

While one suspects the bill would not make the toll booths go away, it is a good time to point out that these man-made traffic snarls are about the least efficient of all means of raising revenue with all sorts of hidden costs ranging from higher milk prices in supermarkets to creating a competitive disadvantage to the port of Philadelphia versus New York which shippers can use to access the interior via toll free I-80.

And of course, the cost of tolling interchanges means that there is a lot less of them than there would be with freeways which means longer drives to destinations which means wasted gas and more smog.

 

Bill Kills Turnpike Commission

Bill Kills Turnpike Commission

Pennsylvania Potholes Can Be Reported

Pennsylvania Potholes Can Be Reported — Pennsylvania drivers can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to report potholes and other problems on state roads, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129)

Based on the caller’s phone number, calls are directed to local PennDOT maintenance facilities where problems can receive the appropriate attention. Callers are encouraged to:

–Report the county and municipality where the problem is located.

–Report the state route number, which can be found on the small white-and-black signs posted along state roads, where the problem is located.

–Describe familiar landmarks nearby in order to help PennDOT crews locate the problem.

The toll-free maintenance hotline can be reached at 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623). In addition to reporting potholes, motorists may also report missing highway signs, shoulder drop-offs, roadway washouts and other potential hazards.

 

Pennsylvania Potholes Can Be Reported

Pennsylvania Potholes Can Be Reported

Stupid Traffic Flow Of Springfield, Pa.

Driving west on Baltimore Pike through Springfield, Delaware County, Pa, one will reach a stoplight flanked by Springfield Square North and South.

A few dozen yards behind  will be an exit from Springfield Square North which could but rarely  disgorges traffic back onto the Pike. Why would  it be used? It only allows right turns hence it merely puts a motorist in line for a light they would likely miss if he just used the main exit.

Now, if that driveway were an entrance on the other hand it would be used probably by more than half of those entering the center cutting down the snarl at the main entrance and bringing relief to those drivers who just want to pass on by.

A few hundred yards beyond Springfield Square is a small strip center across from the termini  of North Chester and Riverview roads. It  has a Starbucks, Talbots dress shop, an AT&T store and an absolutely bizarre traffic flow. The  first driveway, counter-intuitively, is the exit. This means the customers unfamiliar with the site use it as an entrance.
Drivers entering as they should often find themselves face to face on the narrow traffic way with cars leaving the back parking spaces for the exit.

This small center is abuts the larger Olde Sproul Shopping Village  which  has several entrances and exits with a light at the main one.

A small concrete barrier prevents cars from entering the Village from the Starbucks’ center and getting onto the Pike using the traffic light.

Why? Both centers are private property. It is possible the absentee landlords are not aware of the issue. It is possible they don’t care about the issue.

Regardless, the lives of the community could be improved with just a small bit of effort.

Stupid Traffic Flow Of Springfield, Pa.

Stupid Traffic Flow Of Springfield, Pa.

Pa. Toll Hike To Hit Commercial Haulers Hard

If you haven’t heard yet, Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls will rise 10 percent for cash customers in 2012.

The decision was made July 19 by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and announced two days later.

Those using E-ZPass will not see an increase.

Except for  commercial haulers. They will see a 15 percent increase as they will lose their 15 percent volume discount.

Exempted from the hike will be I-576 in the Pittsburgh area.

The money will be used to pay off bonds that were used for improvements to highways and mass transit systems.

OK, what does the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have to do with mass transit systems?

Nevermind.

This will be the fourth straight year the Commission has raised rates. The hike is expected to transfer $23 million from citizens to the state.

Gov. Corbett had promised not to raise taxes. He is deluding himself that increasing the transportation costs by 15 percent for those who use the state’s turnpike system to haul our food, manufactured items and consumer goods is not a tax hike, and one that will ultimately be borne by the consumer.

What’s really pathetic is that if revenue is needed highway tolls are an extraordinarily inefficient means of getting it.

This study of the system in Washington State showed that collection costs were $22 for every $100 raised, which was 25 times greater than those of a gasoline tax.

Of course, raising tolls means less screaming from us pheasants than, say, raising the gas tax. The pain is much less immediate and the source of it much less obvious. This is something well understood to those who earn their well-buttered bread by plucking us.

And also ignored by toll-road phanboys are  the hidden costs. Aside from the smog-producing, gas-wasting slowdowns and snarls at the toll booths,  turnpikes are extraordinarily inefficient means of providing transportation.

Consider that in the 20-miles of the free part of I-476 between I-95 and the first toll booth at Plymouth Meeting there are 10 exits.  In the next 37 miles after the Plymouth Meeting interchanges there are three.

This means that there are a whole lot of drivers unnecessarily wasting time and gas on stop-light dotted roads than would be otherwise if our transportation planners were not strapped in considering the burden of  toll collection.

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