House lawmakers: End the uncertainty for highway funding

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor With a May 31 deadline approaching to extend the life of the Highway Trust Fund, a large group of U.S. representatives believes it’s time to pass a lasting highway bill and end the short-term extensions.

A bipartisan letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., contains signatures from 284 representatives led by Republicans Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Tom Reed of New York and Democrats Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey. “Very simply, we support transportation and infrastructure investment because our economy needs a national system to safely move people and deliver goods from place to place,” the letter reads. “Our constituents in the manufacturing, construction, agriculture, energy, and distribution sectors rely heavily on our network of roads and bridges to move the products that make us competitive around the globe.” The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, became law in 2012 and technically expired in September 2014. Congress passed an eight-month extension that lasted through election season and into the new Congress. The lawmakers say more short-term extensions only lead to uncertainty as states plan their transportation budgets. “We are united in our conviction that now is the time to end the cycle of short-term extensions that kick the can down the road by doing the work needed to pass a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill,” they wrote. “To make this happen, we support efforts to develop a long-term sustainable revenue source for our nation’s transportation network as soon as possible.

Otherwise, we will not be able to enact a transportation bill that truly meets our country’s economic and infrastructure needs.” The letter does not say exactly how a long-term transportation bill – traditionally five or six years in duration – should be paid for. Some lawmakers and the White House have floated a plan that uses tax reforms to send more money to transportation. Others have suggested raising fuel taxes, while some have suggested public-private partnerships, tolling, or using proceeds from oil and gas drilling. - See more at:

Pennsylvania bills permit local police to use speed radar; limit lane use

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Two Pennsylvania state lawmakers are bringing back bills to allow local police to use speed radar.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Since 1961, only state troopers are allowed to use radar.

Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, and Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Allegheny, have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would change the state’s distinction.

The bills would permit local police officers to use radar to nab speeders.

Currently, local police are limited to electronic tools such as VASCAR, which determines a vehicle’s speed by measuring the time it takes to move between two points.

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan has said that radar is the most effective and accurate speed-control device available; however, local police departments have not been permitted to use the enforcement tool.

Efforts to expand radar use in the state historically have struggled as opponents say the enforcement tool could be used to set up speed traps and rake in revenue from tickets.

“It is ironic that we don’t allow municipal police to utilize radar; however, we do allow certain municipalities to utilize red-light camera systems,” Vulakovich wrote in a memo to senators.

Vulakovich’s bill, SB535, is also in the Senate Transportation Committee. Readshaw’s bill, HB71, is in the House Transportation Committee.

Another bill in the House Transportation Committee is intended to entice more drivers to make sure they stay to the right through the threat of increased fines.

The Keystone State already prohibits drivers from hanging out in the left lane. Travelers have limited left lane use on multilane roadways.

Exceptions are made for vehicles traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow. Drivers are also permitted to use the lane for up to two miles in preparation for a left turn or to allow traffic to merge.

Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights, has introduced a bill, HB94, to increase fines for failure to keep right from $25 to $100.

Costa said the stiffer punishment is necessary because motorists traveling slowly in the left-hand lane can “present both a frustration and danger” to other drivers.

“Vehicles traveling at a slow speed in the left-hand lane for an extended period can cause road rage, tailgating, and forces vehicles to pass in the right-hand lane, thereby diminishing safety on our roadways,” Costa wrote.

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