Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Bill Capone
Phone:717-939-9551, ext. 3040
May 13, 2009

State Transportation Secretary Named PA Turnpike Chairman

Turnpike Vice Chairman Carson, Secretary-Treasurer Lincoln retain posts in reorganization.

HARRISBURG, PA (05/13/2009; 1223)(readMedia)-- Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Allen D. Biehler, P.E. was recently named chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Biehler has served as ex-officio member of the five-person commission for more than six years since he became PennDOT chief in February 2003.

In addition, two commissioners retained leadership posts as part of a commission reorganization approved at its bimonthly meeting last week. Timothy J. Carson, an attorney and commission member since November 2000, was re-elected as vice chairman. Carson, a Rosemont, Pa. resident, is the longest-serving member of the commission. He is a long-time public-finance partner in the law firm of Saul Ewing LLP, a former president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and former chairman of the board of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). Additionally, J. William Lincoln, a commissioner since May 2004, was reappointed secretary-treasurer. Lincoln, who served as a state senator for 16 years and as a state representative for six years, is a resident of Uniontown, Pa. (Fayette County). Lincoln also was a member of the State Transportation Advisory Committee and a University of Pittsburgh trustee.

Continuing to serve as a commissioner is Pasquale T. (Pat) Deon Sr., a Bucks County businessman who is chairman of the board for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Deon was originally named to the commission in June 2002. A remaining turnpike-commission vacancy is expected to be filled by attorney A. Michael Pratt later this year. Gov. Edward G. Rendell nominated Pratt - a partner in the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP - to a four-year term on March 23. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

Biehler said as chairman, he will continue to improve transparency in how toll income is used to operate and improve the Pennsylvania Turnpike system.

"Pennsylvanians today expect more openness from government than ever before," Biehler said. "This fiscal year alone, the turnpike is on track to spend $386 million on roadway projects as part of a capital-improvement plan, and we owe it to toll-paying motorists to clearly explain how we're spending their money."

Transparency was strengthened last year with the introduction of an online Electronic Bidding System ( The commission also publishes contracts on its internet site. Upon execution, contracts can be viewed at by clicking on "Doing Business with the PTC."

"Construction, engineering and professional-services agreements are a vital element in operating, maintaining and improving the turnpike system, and the public deserves easy access to this and other information," Biehler said. "I salute the commission for posting contracts online, and I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to explore new ways the turnpike can be an innovator for integrity in government."

Prior to taking the helm at PennDOT in February 2003, Biehler amassed 34 years experience in transportation engineering, planning, construction administration and public-transportation management. He was a vice president at the transportation-consulting firm of DMJM+Harris, where he oversaw international-rail projects. He had a 17-year career at the Port Authority of Allegheny County, including serving as director of planning, engineering and construction. Before that, he worked in highway and aviation planning for 12 years in city and county government in Pittsburgh. A certified professional engineer, Biehler holds a civil-engineering degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's equivalent certificate in transportation from Yale University.

Under the Biehler chairmanship, another commission priority will be to ensure that the turnpike continues its brisk level of investment to improve the 545-mile toll-road system. In the current fiscal year ending May 31, the commission is investing $434 million in highway projects, facilities, equipment and technology - a number expected to grow in fiscal 2010 and beyond. The commission has been engaged in a total-reconstruction program for a decade, striving to entirely renew the 68-year-old highway from the ground up. To date, 10 reconstruction projects totaling 60 miles have been completed and three projects totaling 18.5 miles are now in construction.

Another turnpike priority will be to continue to help address Pennsylvania's transportation-funding deficit. The commission provided $1.6 billion to PennDOT over the last 21 months under Act 44 - a 2007 state law that calls on the turnpike to provide aid using toll income and the sale of turnpike revenue bonds. Act 44 funds are a vital part of the PennDOT revenue stream, enabling the agency to maintain Pennsylvania's highways and bridges and support public transit. According to latest estimates, PennDOT has improved 855 miles of state highway and preserved, rehabilitated or replaced 389 state-owned bridges with the Act 44 funds it received from the commission thus far.

The five-member Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was created by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1937 with authority to construct, finance, operate and maintain the turnpike. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, "America's First Superhighway," opened to the public in October 1940. Four commissioners, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate, plus the secretary of transportation, serve on the commission for four-year terms.