When is a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit Required

ImagePennDOT regulates activities within their road right-of-way through the issuance of Highway Occupancy Permits. By regulation, a permit is required whenever a access point or utility are installed or whenever other modifications are made to or above the the PennDOT right-of-way.

Most commonly for Benchmark, these permits involve the construction of a new driveway or other improvements associated with a new development or a municipal improvement project. Many existing driveways and utilities were constructed prior to 1982 when PennDOT began their current permitting requirements. These facilities are generally not “grandfathered” however some municipalities do not require that permits be obtained as part of land development projects for these older facilities unless they are being modified.

Often permits are also obtained when utilities are installed. Most major utility companies (water, gas, electric,sewer) have a contact with PennDOT which assists them in obtaining permits because they are generally routine in nature. Stormwater pipes which cross the PennDOT right-of-way are permitted to the local municipality who is then responsible for the maintenance of those pipes, inlets, and associated structures. Frequently, when a permit is issued for a stormwater pipe related to a development the local municipality will assign the responsibility and cost for maintaining the stormwater pipes to the developer. The Highway Occupancy Permit is still issued to the municipality but the developer enters into an agreement with the municipality.

Benchmark has extensive experience with designing facilities and obtaining permits from PennDOT for new and existing driveways as well as utilities. We have also completed projects involving overhead conveyor facilities crossing PennDOT right-of-ways. Please contact us to discuss your permitting needs. We have successfully prepared Highway Occupancy Permits for numerous private clients, municipalities, and school districts.

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LVEDC Promotes Intermodal and Transit Oriented Development with Tours

Over the last two weeks the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has held two important tours for the future of the Lehigh Valley, This past week, in conjunction with the New York and New Jersey Port Authority a tour of the Bethlehem Intermodal site was conducted. The site is well on its way to becoming a major inland port and several users have built distribution centers at the site to allow containers to be delivered directly from incoming rail cars to their warehouse facilities. The advantage of the site is that with the multi-modal (rail-truck) service delays at the port can be greatly reduced and shipments can flow into the distribution system much more quickly. The LVEDC is promoting this service as an alternative to trucking directly from the port. The rail service is configured to allow double stack containers and trailers on rail cars. Please contact Pete Reinke for more information (preinke@lehighvalley.org).

This week, the LVEDC conducted a tour of sites in Bethlehem, Whitehall, and Allentown and LANta presented their current and future plans to provide service to several corridors in the Lehigh Valley. The trip started with attendees traveling from downtown Bethlehem on one of the new hybrid LANta buses. The group visited the former Lehigh Valley Dairy Building, the Schoen’s Building in downtown Allentown, the former Bennett and Straub auto dealerships, and One East Broad Street back in downtown Bethlehem. Each of these sites are located on the trunk corridor of LANta’s bus service. Each represent redevelopments which will include commercial, office, and potentially residential uses. The redevelopment of these properties will include a focus on access to mass transit. LANta and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission outlined their plans to promote transit oriented development. Developers interested in these site’s or other redevelopment site’s should contact Holly Edinger at LVEDC.( Hedinger@lehighvalley.org).

Benchmark on You Tube

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzxLQ2RmMn4

ASCE Releases 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure

On March 19. 2013 the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2013 update to their National Infrastructure Report Card.  The report card assesses the condition of America’s infrastructure in 16 categories.  The overall grade was a D+ which is an improvement over the 2009 assessment which had an overall grade of D.  The major areas of improvement were the rail system and the highway bridge system.  The rail systems benefitted from significant private investment in the rail freight system and an improvement in the number of users of the passenger rail system.  The highway bridge system improved slightly because of a general change in the State Department of Transportation’s programs to favor maintenance of existing facilities over expansion of the roadway system.  The Bridges category received a C+ grade, In Pennsylvania, PennDOT has made a major effort to address structurally deficient bridges over the last five years.  Unfortunately, because of the age of Pennsylvania’s bridges each year many additional bridges fall into the structurally deficient category.  Currently 25% of Pennsylvania’s bridges are structurally deficient; that’s right, one in four bridges are structurally not able to carry their design load.

As part of the report card release, ASCE held their legislative Fly-in.  Pete Terry was proud to be one of eight representatives from Pennsylvania who met with Representatives and Senators from across the State.  The main focus of the visits was to share the updated Report Card findings, discuss the next Transportation Funding Bill (MAP 21, the current bill, will expire in September 2014) and to discuss the Water Resources Development Act which provides funding for dam safety, harbor improvements, and improvements to the system of inland waterways.  In general, is seems that our federal legislators are beginning to understand the value of infrastructure to creating jobs, competitiveness, and our standard of living.  The current fiscal constraints and a reluctance to increase user fees continues to hold back support for increased funding.  ASCE indicated three key solutions to increasing our infrastructures grades; (1) Increase leadership on the state and federal levels in infrastructure renewal, (2) Promote sustainability and resilience in the design and maintenance of our infrastructure, and (3) Develop and fund plans to coordinate all transportation modes and their funding.

To see the 2009 Report Card please visit http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/