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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PennDOT Pushing ‘Smart Transportation’; I80 Tolls Discussed

biehlerThe head of PennDOT encouraged county leaders to partner with the agency as part of its “Smart Transportation” initiative on Monday. PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler (right) emphasized the benefits of these partnerships in an address to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. Smart Transportation is a statewide effort to spend limited highway and bridge funds wisely and in cooperation with county planning priorities.

“It’s all about sustainable communities,” Biehler said. “It’s an effort to coordinate our highway plans with the land use tools in counties’ comprehensive plans . . . We need a highway system that not only fits with a community, but augments the vision that a community has for its own future.”

Much of Monday’s dialogue focused on the controversial proposal to charge tolls for traveling on Interstate 80. Biehler said a Federal Highway Administration decision is expected soon. If the toll plan is shot down, he said, then state lawmakers will need to approve an alternative plan to raise money for transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvement. One alternative Biehler suggested was an increase in the state tax on gasoline sales.

Pennsylvania still has serious problems with its highways and bridges, the secretary emphasized, despite investments of almost $1 billion from the federal government economic stimulus plan. Of 25,000 publicly owned bridges in the state, more than 5,000 are structurally deficient. Biehler said PennDOT designated federal stimulus funds for 326 projects statewide, about 60 of which have been completed.

In response to questions about how PennDOT plans to address damage to state roads being caused by heavy trucks — particularly those connected with Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling — Biehler said the issues are being discussed with Gov. Ed Rendell.

“Perhaps it will require a law change protecting any road owner, and not just PennDOT,” he suggested. Potter County Today

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

well here we go again lets take some more cash from the struggling working man.lets charge a toll for folks on their way to work, etc. come on there must be a much better plan of attack than this