A Note From Our Chair
Spring is a welcome time of year for our industry, and perhaps now more than ever as we emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our construction season is underway and, on a much larger scale, in this edition of The Road Ahead, I am pleased to share additional information on Gov. Tom Wolf’s launch of the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC). This is an aggressive, “all in” initiative to develop sustainable revenue solutions to address our transportation funding crisis and Commission initiatives.
However, before diving into our updates, I need to remind you to please pay close attention to our speed limit postings at all times, but especially in construction zones and when you see maintenance crews at work. We have seen an increase in incidents involving motorists and crews in the last several weeks. PennDOT and the PTC participated in National Work Zone Awareness Week to bring attention to motorist and worker safety. Please share this reminder and these links with your constituents and business partners.
Our efforts to rebuild and expand the Turnpike continue; crews recently completed construction on a six-mile stretch of the Northeastern Extension, I-476. This project is one of the largest we have undertaken in recent years, and this milestone is good news. We are also making a strategic investment in a new fiber optic network that will help power our transition to automated vehicles. This project will present opportunities for business partners who need access to this resource.
The PTC’s Women’s Network annual conference was a success and, in that same vein, I am happy to share with you that Kelli Roberts has taken on a new and expanded role at the PTC. We are working hard to empower women and people of color across our agency.
Thank you, once again, for taking the time to read The Road Ahead. Please feel free to share with your colleagues.
PTC Joins Gov. Wolf's Initiative to Address Transportation Funding
Gov. Tom Wolf has issued an executive order to create the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) to identify alternatives to the gas tax and identify sustainable revenue sources for transportation systems. PennDOT Secretary and PTC Chair Yassmin Gramian will serve as the chair. CEO Mark Compton will serve as a Commission member.
The PTC has played a major role in funding the state’s transportation network. Since 2007, with the passage of Act 44, the Commission has transferred more than $7 billion to PennDOT for transit systems across the state. Beginning next July, the Commission’s annual payments will drop from $450 million to $50 million annually and a full $450 million for transit will come from the general fund.
The TROC and lawmakers need to keep this important shift in mind as we move ahead. In addition, the PTC helped launch the PA Mobility Partnerships with PennDOT and leaders in the southwest and southeast regions of the state to highlight the need for new funding streams for transit and for the PTC. The Partnerships are also well represented in the TROC.
Click here to review a TROC presentation on the funding challenge, and follow along at www.penndot.gov/funding.
Click here to review the Southeast and Southwest PA Partnership for Mobility Reports.
Crews Wrap Up Construction on Northeastern Extension Project
The PTC recently announced the substantial completion of a $225 million total reconstruction and widening project of approximately six miles of the Northeastern Extension (I-476) between the Lansdale Interchange, Exit 31, and the Quakertown Interchange, Exit 44, Montgomery County.
Three lanes in each direction have been opened to traffic. Motorists will see occasional short-term, overnight lane closures as contractors complete roadside restoration and other punch-list items.
The new six-lane highway features full, 12-foot shoulders to the left and right of the travel lanes; new concrete median barrier; four sections of sound barrier walls; and an extensive stormwater drainage system that includes 32 stormwater management features such as retention basins and rain gardens.
Fiber Optic Network Will Boost Connectivity, Power Automated Vehicles
The PTC is installing a new fiber optic network along more than 200 miles of the PA Turnpike, an investment that will boost connectivity between our administrative buildings and support All-Electronic Tolling and Intelligent Transportation Systems.
The cable will stretch from the PTC’s main offices in Dauphin County to the Delaware River Bridge, as well as the Northeastern Extension connecting Philadelphia, Allentown, and Scranton.
The investment will also prepare the PTC to support emerging technologies for smart roadways and automated vehicles. The PTC plans to lease excess capacity to outside organizations, such as cellular network providers, or other groups seeking high-speed broadband.
Women's Network 2021 Conference a Success, Despite Pandemic
The Women’s Network 2021 “Exceeding the Vision” conference, held virtually in March, drew more than 700 individual logins throughout the weeklong event. PTC Chair Yassmin Gramian kicked off the conference with a discussion of the challenges women face in the transportation industry, as well as the accomplishments that many have made and continue to make. Other PA Turnpike employees from engineering, toll collection operations, information technology, human resources, and other departments led discussions on a wide range of topics throughout the week.
Special guest speakers such as PTC Commissioner Wadud Ahmad, who led discussions on “Leading Through Connections” and “Building an Inclusive and Respectful Culture,” helped bring a new perspective to how building relationships in the workplace is important.
PTC’s Kelli Roberts Takes on a New Role
Kelli Roberts has been promoted to the position of Director of Policy and External Affairs, providing leadership on initiatives and projects of cross-departmental importance.
Since joining the PTC in 2013, Kelli has been in both the communications and engineering departments. In her new role, she will lead initiatives of strategic importance to the PTC, such as our partnership with PennDOT to implement tolling services as part of its P3 Bridge initiative, and continued efforts to modernize our customer service approach.