The Road Ahead

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Leslie S. Richards


I learned early on in my career in the private sector that the successful delivery of a major transportation or engineering project hinges on successful partnerships between the public and private sectors, business partners and teams dedicated to delivering projects on time and on budget. Today, that focus on partnerships is critical to the success of the PA Turnpike’s key initiatives.

Increasingly, our agency is serving as a partner with a wide array of agencies, private-sector businesses and other stakeholders to provide safe and efficient travel for our customers – and to power statewide and national mobility.

In this edition of The Road Ahead, I am happy to share updates on several partnerships that our agency is helping to lead. The PA Turnpike has joined with PennDOT and Penn State University for the Pennsylvania Safety, Transportation and Research Track (PennSTART), a state-of-the-art training facility for first responders, transportation organizations and researchers.

We have formed two new partnerships with our transit partners in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions, SEPTA and the Port Authority of Allegheny County, respectively, on two separate studies.

We have two goals for these studies: First, we want to work with both agencies and regional leaders to explore sustainable investment and financial support for these important partners. In addition, we need to stabilize toll rates for our customers and to continue maintaining and expanding our tollway system.

The Commission has also joined a new partnership with PennDOT, Ohio and Michigan departments of transportation and academic institutions to form the Smart Belt Coalition to support testing and deployment of various applications of connected and automated vehicles (CAV).

Beyond this initiative, our modernization efforts continue with the launch of a new automated vehicle classification system on the Northeastern Extension and the Findlay Connector. We are transitioning from an axle and weight-based vehicle classification system to a new axle and height-based system.

Finally, the PA Turnpike is working to ensure that all our customers pay their fair share. We have begun pursuing criminal complaints of egregious scofflaws. All motorists, including private and commercial drivers who habitually take free rides, now risk suspension of their vehicle registration or a potential criminal complaint.

Thank you for your continued interest in our operations and impact on the state and, please, drive safely.