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. 

The state could put weight limits on aging bridges across Pennsylvania as early as this fall as a direct result of the failure in Harrisburg to pass a transportation funding plan.

The limit would require certain vehicles to find detours around bridges.

PennDOT and police across Pennsylvania are partnering this Independence Day to crack down on impaired drivers on the roads, while the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is focusing their attention on the rivers.

PennDOT is conducting a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign now through July 7.

Erin Waters-Trasatt, spokeswoman for PennDOT, said the best way for drivers who have been drinking to stay safe is to have a designated driver.

90.5 WESA

Following a “bad weekend” with the collapse of his agenda, Governor Tom Corbett signed a nearly $29 billion state budget Sunday night.  Controversial issues including liquor privatization and allocations for transportation funding remain in the Legislature until the fall, prompting a close examination of these pressing topics and the motivations behind both parties in both the House and Senate.

Negotiations over a $2.5 billion plan to fix Pennsylvania's roads and bridges could include getting rid of state-set wages that increase the cost of road repair projects.

Many House Republicans have long opposed of the state's prevailing wage law, saying it typically sets the pay for public works projects at union rates, and boosts costs to local governments by as much as 20 percent.

Speeding Ticket Surcharge May Be On Chopping Block

Jun 13, 2013

State lawmakers may take issue with making speeding tickets cost any more than they already do.

A proposal to tack a $100 surcharge on moving violations was the subject of questions at a Wednesday House Transportation Committee hearing on the $2.5 billion transportation funding proposal.

The revenue generated from the surcharge would be slated for mass transit, and with a number of rural House lawmakers already balking at funding mass transit systems, the proposal might be one of the least popular items in a bill full of unpalatable revenue generators.

Bridges Around the State Evaluated by PennDOT

Jun 4, 2013
jeffrybt / flickr

In the wake of the deadly bridge collapse in Washington, interest has increased in the current condition and safety of Pennsylvania’s bridges. With the average age of bridges on the state system well over 50, PennDOT must evaluate the numerous bridges and consider the needs and costs of the state infrastructure.   According the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Allegheny County has 2,247 bridges yet many of them are categorized as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

The latest report from a Washington D.C.-based pro-transportation investment think tank finds the average Pittsburgh driver is losing $1,418 a year due to the poor conditions of the region’s transportation infrastructure and mass transit systems. 

The Road Information Program (TRIP) Policy and Research Director Frank Moretti said that comes in the form of gas and time wasted sitting in traffic congestion, accidents due at least in part to poor road conditions and design, and fuel inefficiency and undue wear and tear on vehicles due to bad road conditions.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For the next few weeks, law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law. It’s an effort to get more people to buckle up.

U.S. Airborne Unit and Merchant Marine veterans are now able to display pride in their service on their cars.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has added two new designs to its list of military license plates.

PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said the plates are the result of bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and “are there to recognize the challenges faced by these service members.”

While it wouldn’t happen in the near future, a new bill could put the Pennsylvania Turnpike into new hands.

State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) has introduced legislation to abolish the Turnpike Commission and turn over operation of the toll road to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The bill comes in response to the 44-month grand jury investigation that culminated in charges in March against eight individuals.

PennDOT Plays Musical Cars, and Takes Some Away

Apr 15, 2013

PennDOT is touting the savings resulting from smarter management of its vehicle fleet. The agency expects to save $4 million a year by changes that include reducing its fleet of state-assigned cars by 30 percent.

It's not a huge amount in an annual budget of more than $6 billion, but it's better than nothing.

"The bottom line is, is money is tight," said department spokesman Steve Chizmar. "So we have to look at every possible angle for additional efficiencies."

PennDOT Seeks Volunteers for Spring Cleaning

Apr 8, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is asking for volunteers to help "Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful." 

Each year, PennDOT conducts the "Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania" from the beginning of spring until the end of summer. It's a statewide effort to pick up roadside and shoreline litter and debris.