PennDOT says it has taken precautions to protect electronic roadside signs from pranksters seeking to change the message.

Numerous sign hacks have appeared across the country for years, drawing attention to security shortcomings.

But a spokeswoman for PennDOT says the state’s electronic signs and highway advisory radios are protected with passwords as well as physical locking systems.

Chuck Davis, who teaches ethical hacking and computer forensics at Harrisburg University, said that’s probably adequate.

After 20 Years, PennDOT Evaluates Problems With the Parkway East

May 13, 2014
Flickr user daveynin

Negotiating the roads around Pittsburgh isn’t easy. For a long time, one area of contention has been I-376 East.

So the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is now asking for public feedback on traffic conditions for the route known as the Parkway East. PennDOT District 11 Executive, Dan Cessna said this is the department’s first evaluation for the Parkway East in 20 years.

Cessna pointed out how infrastructure and safety impact Parkway traffic flow on a daily basis.  

PennDOT wants to know what you think should be done to the Parkway East to reduce congestion and lower the number of accidents seen each year.

“We’re only going to look at things that would be something we can afford,” said PennDOT Dist. 11 Executive Dan Cessna. 

Ideas such as removing the Squirrel Hill Tunnel or completely reconfigure the highway will not be considered.

“These are affordable changes that could be done at the interchanges, to the networks of the traffic signal systems, other modifications to the lanes,” Cessna said.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A groundbreaking ceremony in East Liberty Tuesday brought together federal, state and local elected officials, from both parties, to tout continued investment in the area.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced an additional $5 million investment in the next phase of improvements to the East Liberty transit station; the funding comes from the transportation bill passed last year.

Starting Tuesday, an initial wave of fee increases for motor vehicle and driver services will go into effect.

The higher fees were part of the transportation law that passed last year, which allots $2.35 billion to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to roads, bridges and transit systems. That price tag is being paid for, in part, by an increase in gasoline taxes and higher vehicle service fees.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

St. Patrick’s Day is Monday,, but the Steel City’s celebration will take place Saturday, starting with a parade and continuing with partying and revelry throughout the city.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced a joint DUI enforcement effort with the Pennsylvania DUI Association, the PA Liquor Control Board and local law enforcement.

Making Sense of Pittsburgh's Nonsensical Roads

Mar 11, 2014
Phil Quinn / wikipedia

Pittsburgh’s topography is pretty unique as far as cities go. It's essentially a peninsula surrounded by mountains. And with the city's numerous bridges and triangular shape, facilitating efficient traffic patterns has long been a challenge for the region.

Pittsburgher Phil Anderson runs the popular blog The Nonsensical Roads of Pittsburgh, where he records his observations about bizarre traffic and road layouts. He's driven in cities throughout the world and seems to find Pittsburgh infrastructure both amusing and frustrating.

“You have stages of driving on Pittsburgh roads," he said. "There’s anger, grief, and eventually you have acceptance.”

The PennDOT secretary says his annual funding allocation for winter road maintenance has been wiped out by the harsh winter weather.

Barry Schoch says his agency is already about 11 million dollars over budget for the season.

He said frigid temperatures, snow and ice, along with underinvestment in road paving, has led to more and more potholes.

Motorists using the westbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel along the Parkway East (I-376) have been dealing with delays due to a buildup of ice. Steve Cowan Press Officer for PennDOT District 11 says the inbound tunnel has a water flow problem, and in the winter, when temperatures get below freezing, this leads to the temporary shutdown of the tunnel so workers can melt the ice.

Cowan says that a contractor is looking at a way to fix the water leak problem, but he’s is not sure when that will be completed.

The city of Pittsburgh could see as much as 4 inches of snow Monday night, according to the National Weather Service, and city officials are worried salt supplies won’t keep up.

The city is expected to receive a 500-ton shipment of rock salt Monday and Tuesday from its supplier, American Rock Salt. This morning, the city had less than 100 tons of salt.

Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa said the city uses between 800 and 1,000 tons of rock salt for every inch of snow on the roads.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Update: 11:35 a.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is reporting that as of 11:30 a.m. light rail service has been restored to all lines. Riders should still anticipate 10 to 15 minute delays as the Port Authority works to restore its regular schedule.

Bus shuttles that have been providing service for Blue Line-Library riders will end at noon. 

Update: 11:11 a.m.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says it's supplied about 6,000 tons of road salt to municipalities that have run short this winter.

The highway department said Monday its salt stock stood at about 382,000 tons, with some 145,000 tons still to be delivered.

In an average winter, PennDOT goes through about 800,000 tons, but this year's series of storms has the department going through road salt more quickly than usual.

Given the chance, what would you change about your morning drive on the Parkway East? 

Victor DeFazio, PennDOT Project Manager, said that’s the question the department is asking commuters in a survey released this week.

“What we’re trying to do is understand what is going on out there and what are some of the ideas that we can do to improve travel in the entire corridor,” DeFazio said. “Not just on Interstate 376, but even on the parallel and access routes as well.”

Flickr user dno1967b

The new year will bring the end of two multi-year construction projects, the beginning of a couple of others, and tapping additional funds from the recently passed transportation bill for some bridge work.

Route 28

The maximum speed limit for certain Pennsylvania roads is going up by 5 miles per hour due to a small change to a big new state law. But the more lenient limits might take a while to arrive.  

Motorists hoping for a faster trip home got their wish when lawmakers increased the maximum speed limit in Pennsylvania from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour. The change was included in the $2.3 billion transportation funding bill signed into law last month.

But PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said don’t expect the higher speed limit to become the new norm.

PennDOT is reconsidering the weight restrictions placed on structurally deficient bridges in August.

The restrictions came as a result of the Legislature’s failure to approve additional transportation funding over the summer.

But with a funding plan now in place for road and bridge work, PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt says the department can start re-evaluating bridge postings.

joseph a / Flickr


City of Bridges: The following report is the first is a three-part series examining the status of Pittsburgh bridges as the Pennsylvania Legislature considers funding for transportation infrastructure.

The Pittsburgh area is home to hundreds of bridges — by some counts, more than any city in the world.

It also has a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges than any other U.S. city. If your goal is to highlight the problem, one in particular makes a pretty good backdrop.

PennDOT’s Office of Public Private Partnerships (P3) has taken a different “route” in its search for proposals for transportation projects — it is asking the private sector for ideas.

P3 is accepting its second round of proposals for transportation projects.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life it can be hard to stay actively involved in the government process.

In an effort to meet citizen’s half way, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced it will hold its next meeting at a new location – the Internet.

PennDOT will hold an online public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the updates to the 12-year transportation program. PennDOT secretary Barry J. Schoch will be discussing the latest updates to the program.

On the heels of PennDOT’s announcement that it is weight restricting 1,000 bridges statewide, one state lawmaker is proposing to take revenue from natural gas development and use it for bridge repairs.

In all, 46 state-owned bridges in PennDOT District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence Counties) will be posted with new or lowered weight restricted in the coming weeks. The move is meant to slow deterioration on the bridges as funding for major repairs remains uncertain. About 1,000 bridges statewide are considered structurally deficient, according to PennDOT.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

For drivers heading in and out of the South Hills in recent weeks, the daily commute has been trying at times.

Construction on the 5,888-foot-long Liberty Tunnel has prompted 24-hour closures of first the outbound side, then the inbound.

That's meant detours.

And while commuters making their way around the tunnel closures have likely seen workers on the north and south ends of the tunnel restoring concrete facades, much of the work inside the tubes has gone unseen.

After 40 years of planning and securing funding, work will begin August 27 on a new stretch on Route 219 in Somerset County.

The 11-mile, four-lane roadway will connect the existing Route 219 south of Somerset with the existing four-lane Meyersdale bypass.

The project will include new interchanges north of Meyersdale and at a crossing of the Mud Pike roadway.

PennDOT is placing weight restrictions on about 1,000 bridges across the state as a result of the Legislature’s failure to approve funding for infrastructure.

Secretary Barry Schoch said new or harsher weight restrictions will be posted in the next four to five months.                    

The inbound Liberty Tunnel will close around-the-clock Wednesday at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Aug. 30.

The 44,000 motorists that travel Route 28 daily between Pittsburgh and Millvale can expect some additional congestion, as the fourth phase of a major reconstruction project begins Monday.

Traffic on northbound and southbound Route 28 will be shifted into new configurations between East Ohio Street and the 40th Street Bridge.

As students start heading back to school this year, they may find their bus routes increasing to avoid weight-restricted bridges across the state.

The head of PennDOT says lawmakers will find out in the next few weeks which bridges will be limited to heavy traffic, due to the Legislature’s failure to pass a transportation funding bill.

Secretary Barry Schoch said the restrictions will affect industry trucks, school buses and emergency responders.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the Public Private Partnerships (P3) for Transportation Act in 2012, which gives PennDOT and other transportation agencies a chance to partner with the private sector to improve services or create new projects. Now two proposals are ready for approval from the P3 board.

“We recently had a period where we solicited ideas from the private sector, and we received six ideas and two of them will be admitted to the P3 board this fall,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trassatt said.

More than 190 million vehicles travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike each year — about 520,000 a day.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have worked to make that drive as easy as possible, and now they are asking for your help.

PennDOT and the commission have released a survey looking for travelers’ opinions on the services the agencies provide.

Tim Lambert / WITF

In the wake of Governor Corbett’s budget signing and the Supreme Court’s overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, John Micek Opinions Editor of the Harrisburg Patriot-News explains the many pressing issues at the state level.