C O M M I S S I O N N E W S R E L E A S E
Liebler 717-929-9551, Ext. 2850
|May 5, 1999|
ATTENTION RADIO STATIONS: Voice actualities relative to this news release are available from the Turnpikes Information Broadcast Service by calling 1-800-563-5425
PA TURNPIKE COMMISSION APPROVES 1999 - 2000 BUDGET, CAPITAL PLAN
Harrisburg, PA -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has approved a $168.3 million operating budget for fiscal year 1999 2000 and a Capital Planning Program that calls for the expenditure of $2.3 billion on roadway improvements, infrastructure projects and information technology development over the next ten years.
Turnpike Commission Chairman James Malone said, "The Commissions new budget and capital plan demonstrate in the most visible way that our managerial and administrative changes over the past several years are paying off for the Turnpike customer. Weve kept our spending in check, were directing our resources to highway improvements and are giving our customers more value for their toll dollar."
The operating budget reflects an increase in spending by three percent over last years levels. Operating expenses during fiscal year 1998 99, which will end on May 31st, are predicted to be under budgeted amounts for the fourth consecutive year. At the same time, operating earnings for fiscal year 1998 99 are expected to exceed more than $215 million based on a record 157 million vehicles traveling on Americas first superhighway.
"Although spending for 1999 2000 will increase only moderately, our operating revenue is expected to grow at a faster pace," said Turnpike Deputy Executive Director for Finance and Administration Blair Fishburn. This new spending plan adheres to our financial model of requiring expense growth to be less than revenue growth to ensure a net annual earning increase. We expect next years revenue growth to be about 4.7 percent."
Executive Director John Durbin said, "Once again strong financial management, strategic planning and efficient program execution have translated into another year of success and productivity at the Pennsylvania Turnpike. "Our continued efforts at holding spending to an affordable level is allowing us to direct even more resources toward the enhancement of operational services and capital improvements."
The newly approved 1999 2000 Capital Plan which identifies capital improvement projects and their funding through the fiscal year 2008 09 allocates an increase of $625 million for roadway, infrastructure and technology projects compared to the plan approved last year.
More than $2 billion or 87 percent of the capital improvements budget has been allocated for the Turnpike highway system which include the roadway, bridges, tunnels and interchanges.
As part of the total rebuild of the Turnpike, construction will be underway this year on 24 miles of roadway in southwestern Pennsylvania. A total of 20 miles are now in the design phase with design work scheduled to begin this fiscal year on an additional 20 miles. The Turnpike will resurface 80 miles of roadway and install concrete median barrier across the system during the next fiscal year. The study of the widening of the Turnpike to six lanes between Valley Forge (Exit 24) and Mid County (Exit 25A) on the mainline, and between the Mid County and Lansdale (Exit 31) on the Northeastern Extension will continue.
Also scheduled for Southwestern Pennsylvania are major modifications to the toll collection system from the Gateway Mainline Toll Plaza at the Ohio border to the Cranberry Interchange. This initiative includes the conversion of the Gateway Toll Plaza at the Ohio border to a cash exchange system and construction of the new Warrendale Mainline Toll Plaza at milepost 31, which will become the start of the Turnpikes ticket system in western Pennsylvania. Also planned is the reconstruction of the Cranberry interchange and the direct connection to I-79, and the removal there of the toll collection system. The tolls at the New Castle and Beaver Valley interchanges will be removed as part of the conversion.
Other roadway projects include ongoing construction of the Diamond Run/Schuylkill River Bridge, reconstruction of the New Stanton Viaduct and rehabilitation of three bridges in Lancaster County. Rehabilitation and expansion will continue at the Breezewood, Lehigh Valley and Reading/Lancaster toll plazas. Miscellaneous resurfacing, paving and drainage projects will take place systemwide as well as the installation of concrete median barrier to replace the steel median guide rail. The transportation improvement study of the Allegheny Tunnel will also continue.
Looking ahead to the years 2001 2009, the Turnpike plans to initiate design on total reconstruction of an additional 130 miles of highway and widening and replacing the Susquehanna River Bridge. The commission also plans to conduct its resurfacing programs so that milling and overlay of all sections of the roadway are accomplished at a rate of approximately once every 10 years. Also planned though 2009 is the redecking, widening and replacement of at least 50 structures.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM
A total of $169 million is earmarked over the next 10 years for investment in Information Technology. Major projects scheduled for the coming fiscal year include the Summer 2000 implementation of Electronic Toll Collection in the Philadelphia region and the the installation of an entry/exit slip ramp near the Ft. Washington Interchange in Montgomery County. The Commission will continue with the enhancement of a Turnpike-Wide integrated E-ZPass system across the entire mainline. Eighteen Microwave towers will be rebuilt to support the ETC enhancement as well as digital technology on the Turnpike.
Funding is set for three information technology pilot projects: The use of Smart Card by Turnpike employees at the Central Office Building and Interchange 19; a video conferencing pilot program between the Central Office building and the Eastern and Western regional office buildings and a call box cellular pilot on the Mon Fayette Expressway.
Other significant initiatives in the coming year include development of a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system that will enhance the Turnpikes handling of emergency situations, assisting operators in the Turnpikes operation center as they respond to calls. Nearly $800,000 is earmarked to enhance and expand the Turnpikes Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS). The Commission will install more variable message signs, highway advisory units and closed circuit television systems across the Turnpike. The system will also include a traffic flow detection system, a roadway information system, a truck rollover alert system and an over height detection system.
During the next fiscal year, the Commission will continue testing and planning for the year 2000 compliance and pursue the development of a multiple function website and Intranet system.
The renovation and expansion of the Turnpike Central Office building will account for more than $34 million of the $142 million allocated for infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 1999. The Commission also plans to construct an office/warehouse facility for District Five fare collection operations on the Northeastern Extension.
Construction will begin this fall on a new lighting system for the Tuscarora Tunnel. Replacement of the 30-year-old system will improve driver safety and comfort, and reduce Turnpike operating expenses.
The Commission plans to develop a long-range plan for service plazas. A comprehensive market analysis will be conducted during 1999/2000 to determine the future approach for providing customers service at the Turnpikes service plazas. The capital plan also provides funding to address the major maintenance requirements of all Turnpike facilities and identifies resources for the replacement of major equipment, trucks, snowplows and other equipment to allow for optimum road maintenance operations.
NOTE: Following is a listing of projects by region that are underway or scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 1999/2000
CAPITAL PLANNING PROGRAM PROJECTS
Infrastructure / Information Technology
P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676 Phone: (717) 939-9551 Fax: (717) 986-9649