PennDOT’s ePermitting system has in many ways improved the process of obtaining highway occupancy permits. The Secretary of Transportation often touts how much faster and more efficient it is with permits being issued in 30 days. Obviously, many permits still require several rounds of submissions and the system requires that more information be provided in electronic format.
The system also introduces some challenges as to who can create and submit permits for different aspects of the project (developer for a driveway, municipality for the stormwater pipe crossing, utility company for a pole relocation).
Once the permit is issued, there is generally a one year period for the work to be completed unless a time extension is requested. PennDOT recently pointed out that the new ePermitting system cannot handle the extension of a permit once it has expired for greater than thirty days. Once the permit has expired, a new permit, including application fees, must be submitted. This is the way PennDOT’s regulations have always been. Now the ePermitting system forces PennDOT to enforce the rule.
A word to the wise – once you get a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit make note of when it expires. Make sure if you have not completed and closed out the permit work you get your renewal approved within 30 days.
PA State Senator John Rafferty introduced legislation this past week which addresses our funding crisis. The legislation is similar to the plan described by Governor Corbett in his budget address earlier this year except that it would be phased in over three years (instead of the Governor’s five year plan) and would provide $2.6B as opposed to the Governor’s $1.9B. The $2.6B is consistent with the Funding Commissions recommended level of funding.
Full details of the legislation have not been made available and it appears that there may be some resistence to these funding levels. The increased revenue would come at an increased fuel cost to the average motorist (who drives 12,000 miles per year) in the range of $2.50 to $3.00 per week.
The benefits to motorist and to all citizens would be reduced costs for vehicle maintenance (thanks to the improved roads and bridges), the creation of thousands of jobs across the state, and improved economic conditions associated with better roads, bridges, and mass transit system.
This legislation makes sense in that it is directly relating the collection of revenue with the users of the transportation system. It will be critical that this legislation move forward quickly if it is to have any chance of passing. The State Legislature has numerous issues to address (Pension Reform, Liquor Store Sale, State Budge) this year. With election season on the horizon lets hope that the political will exists to address these issues.
Also this week, State Representative Donna Oberlander introduced legislation which would abolish the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and would turn the toll roads over to PennDOT control. Legislation to eliminate the Turnpike Commission has been introduced several times recently but has not gotten traction in the legislature. The question at hand is whether one organization could more efficiently serve the transportation needs of the state.
Benchmark recently updated their web site to provide additional information for our clients and potential clients. We have a direct link on the site to our Bencivil Blog where we regularly post updates to changes in PennDOT regulations, infrastructure funding, and insights into the civil engineering services we provide. You can also see our You Tube video describing our services from the website or via the link below.