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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

December, 2019

PA Turnpike Plans Statewide Conversion to ‘Cashless’ Tolling in Late 2021

HARRISBURG, PA. (NOV. 4, 2019) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) today announced that it plans a full transition to “cashless” All-Electronic Tolling (AET) in late 2021. Once the change is implemented, in-lane or onsite payment will no longer be accepted anywhere along the 552-mile tollway.

After a pair of western PA cashless conversions last month, the remaining sections of the east-west mainline, the Northeastern Extension (Interstate 476) and the Mon/Fayette Expressway (south of Pittsburgh) are scheduled to be converted to cashless in fall 2021.

“This schedule is possible due to the success of our AET pilot locations, two in eastern PA and two on the western side of our system,” said PTC CEO Mark Compton. “Data from these pilots is clear: Performance is on par with projections after 58 million AET transactions have been processed to date at four cashless-tolling locations. We expect the same of our newest AET conversions at the Gateway Toll Point near Ohio in Lawrence County and the Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66) in Westmoreland County.”

Last year, the PTC converted the Findlay Connector in Washington and Allegheny counties and the Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit tolling points on the Northeastern Extension in Lackawanna County. In 2017, it converted the Beaver Valley Expressway (PA Turnpike 376) in Beaver and Lawrence counties. In January 2016, it opened a cashless tolling point near the Turnpike Bridge over the Delaware River at the New Jersey border in Bucks County.

“We recognize that customers pay a premium to travel the Turnpike, and for that reason we are continually reviewing the safety and efficiency of our system,” explained Compton. “Nine years ago, we undertook an AET feasibility study at a time when E-ZPass users were at around 60 percent. Today, our studies and pilot conversions have been completed and now more than 80 percent of our travelers prefer E-ZPass.”

Since the PTC began studying, planning for and implementing AET, more than 30 agencies in 14 states have established systems using proven AET technologies.

“Cashless tolling has been adopted by dozens of agencies across the United States because of the improved safety and mobility it provides,” Compton explained. “Everybody pays electronically, so there’s no need to stop; everyone benefits from the convenience of uninterrupted travel. Plus, cash and E-ZPass customers no longer need to dart across tollbooth traffic to reach their lanes.”

When this cashless conversion is complete, drivers who had been accustomed to paying their tolls with cash or credit will instead receive a PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE bill by mail. A photo of the license plate will be taken, and a bill be mailed to the vehicle’s owner. Drivers with E-ZPass will pay as usual.

Compton said despite the 2021 conversion date, Turnpike Commissioners remain committed to no layoffs prior to Jan. 1, 2022. Collectors will staff toll plazas to offer guidance and aid to customers during this familiarization period. 

“As we move towards AET, we will continue to do all we can to help transition impacted employees — whether that means moving to another position here at the PTC or one elsewhere,” he explained. “Many have taken advantage of resources we’ve made available, including an Employee Transition Guide to evaluate skills and consider internal and external jobs. Others have used our enhanced tuition reimbursement program to prepare for new opportunities here and elsewhere.”

How it works

When AET is implemented across the entirety of the PA Turnpike in 2021, the cost of a trip will still be determined by the customer’s entry and exit point as it is today. All customers will proceed through the toll plazas, where there will be no need to stop for a ticket or to pay cash. Unlike the current system, all vehicles will use the same toll lanes regardless of payment method. This concept of using existing toll facilities and existing infrastructure is referred to as AET “In Place.”

Ultimately, the PTC’s system will be converted to one where all tolls are collected at highway speeds between entry and exit points. Toll plazas and tollbooths will be decommissioned and demolished; overhead steel structures along the highway (called gantries) will be installed to house electronic-tolling apparatus, and these become the new tolling points. This method of AET is known as Open Road Tolling (ORT).

An all-cashless platform will enable economic development gains in communities served by the toll road. Business and community leaders along our roadway regularly request new access-points or slip ramps. That is currently a costly undertaking. However, gantries across the mainline will enable us to cut those costs in half.

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 0.2% in September

Index 3.5% Higher than September 2018

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.2% in September after falling 4% in August. In September, the index equaled 117.6 (2015=100) compared with 117.3 in August.

“This was the first month in 2019 that we did not see a significant increase or decrease in tonnage,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “For the entire third quarter, the index was up 1.2% over the previous quarter and 4.5% from a year earlier, both are nice gains.” 

It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight, which is performing significantly better than the plunge in spot market freight this year.

August’s reading was revised down compared with our September press release.

Compared with September 2018, the SA index increased 3.5%. The index is up 4.1% year-to-date compared with the same period last year. 

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.8 in August, 7.5% below the August level (124). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes. 

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators. 


CVSA Jurisdictions Inspect More than 9,200 CMVs Transporting Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods Aug. 12-16  

Greenbelt, MD… Enforcement personnel in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. inspected 9,259 commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) transporting hazardous materials/dangerous goods (HM/DG) as part of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials (TDG/HM) Road Blitz on Aug. 12-16, 2019. Inspectors identified 683 out-of-service HM/DG conditions. 

During the North America-wide 2019 TDG/HM Road Blitz, 15,197 HM/DG packages were inspected; 8,594 were non-bulk packages/small means of containment and 6,603 were bulk packages/large means of containment (5,730 cargo tank and 873 other bulk).

Inspectors found 66 violations for package integrity (leaking) and 204 violations for loading and securement, all resulting in out-of-service conditions. There were 181 other packaging violations, resulting in 50 out-of-service conditions. Of the 432 total placarding violations, 102 were out-of-service conditions. There were 1,156 shipping paper violations, 226 were out-of-service conditions. Out of 171 markings violations, 35 were out-of-service conditions. In addition: 

* Class 1 explosives, such as ammunition, fireworks, flares, etc., were inspected 262 times. 

* Class 2 gases were inspected 2,108 times. Class 2 gases are categorized as flammable, non-flammable/non-poisonous and poisonous.

* Class 3 flammable liquids were inspected 5,446 times. Examples of flammable liquids are acetone, adhesives, paints, gasoline, ethanol, methanol, some pesticides, etc.

* Class 4 materials were inspected 276 times. Class 4 materials are flammable solids, substances liable to spontaneously combust and substances that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases. Examples of Class 4 materials are white phosphorus and sodium. 

* Class 5 oxidizing agents and organic peroxides were inspected 339 times. Class 5 materials include chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, sodium nitrite, ammonium nitrate fertilizers and oxygen generators.

* Class 6 toxic and infectious substances were inspected 200 times. This means any material, other than a gas, that is so toxic to humans that it presents a health hazard during transportation. Cyanide, biological samples, clinical wastes and some pesticides are examples of Class 6 hazards.

* Class 7 radioactive materials, such as cobalt and cesium, were inspected 87 times. 

* Class 8 materials were inspected 1,728 times. Class 8 corrosive substances, such as sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide, are liquid or solid corrosive materials that cause full thickness destruction of human skin at the site of contact within a specified time.

* Class 9 miscellaneous HM/DG and articles were inspected 667 times. Acetaldehyde ammonia, asbestos, elevated temperature materials and benzaldehyde are Class 9 materials. 

The goal of this TDG/HM Road Blitz initiative is to: 

* Heighten awareness of the rules and regulations in place to keep the public and the environment safe from HM/DG during transportation. 

* Call attention to the hard work of the enforcement community that inspects CMVs transporting HM/DG and enforces regulatory compliance.

* Highlight the steps taken by safety-compliant drivers, shippers and motor carriers to ensure HM/DG is appropriately marked, placarded, contained and secured while being transported from location to location.

Since 2012, Transport Canada and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) member jurisdictions in Canada have held this annual week-long national enforcement blitz to conduct inspections and verify compliance with Canada’s TDG Regulations. This year, however, was the first time that the U.S. and Mexico joined Canada in this initiative focused on the inspections, regulatory compliance and enforcement of HM/DG regulations. As a combined North American initiative, this event allowed enforcement partners across national borders to foster North America-wide uniformity of HM/DG enforcement activities and gather and share valuable compliance and enforcement information. 

“Every day, hazardous materials are shipped throughout North America,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Such materials are often necessary for people’s way of life; however, these materials can also be dangerous and without proper care, rules and regulations, there is the potential to endanger human life and damage the environment. That is why it is so important that drivers, inspectors, motor carriers, manufacturers and governments continually work together to ensure the safe transportation of HM/DG and to eliminate any risk of incidents.”

Governments in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. have rules, policies, statutes and regulations that apply to the transportation of HM/DG, as well as inspection and enforcement programs to ensure compliance with safety regulations. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for regulating and ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the modal agency responsible for highway transportation safety and its hazardous materials regulations are specific to highway transportation through its Hazardous Materials Program. To minimize threats to life, property or the environment due to HM-related incidents, PHMSA’s Office of Hazardous Materials Safety develops Hazardous Materials Regulations and standards for the classification, handling and packaging of more than 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials within the U.S. Members of the CMV enforcement community in U.S. states and territories enforce the Hazardous Materials Regulations by conducting inspections on CMVs transporting hazardous materials to determine compliance with all pertinent sections of the regulations and by taking enforcement actions, when appropriate, to ensure proper compliance. 

In Canada, the TDG Act and TDG Regulations promote public safety when dangerous goods are handled or transported. The TDG Regulations are the rules that prescribe safety standards and shipping requirements for thousands of dangerous goods. The regulations also establish safety requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods. Effective TDG enforcement requires that knowledgeable inspectors monitor the flow of dangerous goods shipments to ensure compliance with the TDG Act and TDG Regulations. Inspectors are designated under the TDG Act to cover the many facets of packaging and transportation of dangerous goods and are given powers to safeguard the public. Inspectors are entitled to inspect the consignment and use the powers given to them under the TDG Act to ensure that any movement of dangerous goods is made in compliance with the TDG Act and regulations. 

In Mexico, the Official Mexican Standards (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas or NOMs) augment the Mexican regulations for the land transport of hazardous materials and wastes. Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation is responsible for publishing and maintaining the NOMs. In addition, other Mexican government agencies have published standards relevant to the transportation of hazardous materials within Mexico. 

“Regulated hazardous materials are transported on our roadways every day and we need to ensure those shipments are travelling safely and securely,” said Sgt. Samis. “Canada, Mexico and the U.S. all participated in this 2019 TDG/HM inspection and enforcement initiative demonstrating the universally held need to safeguard compliance, safety, efficiency and responsibility when packaging, storing, transporting, monitoring and handling HM/DG.”


Gateway Toll Plaza and Greensburg Bypass Go Cashless As Of Oct. 27 - E-ZPass and PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE only methods of payment.

HARRISBURG, PA The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is reminding drivers that cashless, or all electronic, tolling will go into effect this weekend at the Gateway Toll Plaza in Lawrence County near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border and at the Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66) in Westmoreland County. This means that cash or credit will no longer be accepted at these locations.

“October 27 marks a significant change in the way we are collecting tolls,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “We need to make sure motorists understand that the conversion to cashless tolling at these locations means they will no longer need to stop in the lane to pay a toll.” 

Drivers who usually pay with cash or credit at the Gateway Toll Plaza and PA Turnpike 66 will now be billed by mail via the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE program. A photo of the license plate will be taken, and an invoice will be sent to the vehicle’s owner. Drivers with E-ZPass will pay as usual.

Only eastbound motorists entering Pennsylvania at the Gateway Toll Plaza, located at milepost 1.4, pay a toll. With the cashless-tolling conversion, drivers will keep moving and won’t stop to pay a toll. TOLL BY PLATE and E-ZPass will be the only forms of payment at this location.

As motorists continue driving eastbound on the PA Turnpike, cash customers will need to stop and pick up a ticket at the Warrendale Toll Plaza located at milepost 30.9 in Allegheny County, which is where the ticket system begins. E-ZPass users continue to travel as usual.

Cashless tolling is also being implemented on PA Turnpike 66 on Oct. 27. Drivers will no longer stop and pay the toll at the mainline plaza, nor will they have to drop change into the baskets at the exit ramps. Current cash customers will receive a TOLL BY PLATE invoice in the mail. E-ZPass customers travel as usual.

Here’s how it works:

A motorist passes under a tolling gantry or through existing tolling lanes with high-speed cameras mounted overhead. If the cashless, or all electronic, tolling platform does not detect an E-ZPass transponder, high-resolution cameras will capture license-plate images. Within the month, the Turnpike will issue a toll invoice to the car or truck’s registered owner.

E-ZPass customers, who make up about 82 percent of all traffic, will continue to pay the same way they pay today: E-ZPassreaders scan transponders, and the account will be charged the appropriate toll. Using E-ZPass remains the most economical choice. The rates are much lower than PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE. Customers can see the toll rates for these locations and learn more about cashless tolling by visiting www.nocashzone.com.

“This new cashless toll-collection system has proven successful in other parts of the country,” said Compton. “It allows for the free flow of traffic by not stopping to pay a toll, it eases congestion, boosts mobility and ensures safer travel for motorists throughout the region.”

Cashless tolling is already in place at the Findlay Connector section of the Southern Beltway in Allegheny and Washington counties, the Beaver Valley Expressway (Toll 376) and the Turnpike Bridge over the Delaware River, plus parts of the Northeastern Extension of the PA Turnpike. Toll collectors at all converted locations were reassigned to other tolling facilities along the PA Turnpike.


Members Of Congress Launch Bipartisan Road Safety Caucus

FREDERICKSBURG, VA… The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) commends the formation of the bipartisan Road Safety Caucus in the 116th Congress, and applauds the leadership and commitment of its co-chairs, Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.). 

The caucus was first established in 2017 by U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.). Both Barletta and Esty have served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

“The creation of this caucus is a testament to the commitment by members of Congress to ensure that roadway safety is a top priority of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Congress as a whole,” said Nate Smith, ATSSA vice president of government relations. 

Now being steered by Pappas and Westerman, who both serve on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the caucus will work to advocate for the roadway safety infrastructure and transportation industries by bringing key issues to Congress and by supporting legislation that would impact those same issues.

“Safe, reliable roadways are the backbone of American infrastructure. While we rarely notice a road’s design or construction unless it’s the cause of traffic delays, updating roadway safety and efficiency is one of my top priorities. I thank Congressman Pappas for his leadership on this bipartisan effort and look forward to working together to ensure the safety of our roads,” Westerman said.

“Whether it’s moving American made goods across the country or just getting your kids across town, millions of Americans depend on our roads to safely get where they need to go,” Pappas said. “I thank Congressman Westerman for joining me in launching the bipartisan Road Safety Caucus to ensure we are striving to improve the safety of our roads each and every day.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 36,750 people were killed in the U.S. in traffic crashes in 2018. 

“Through investments in roadway safety infrastructure projects such as guardrail and cable barrier, traffic signs, pavement markings, rumble strips, work zone safety devices, and emerging innovative technologies for connected and automated vehicles, Congress has the opportunity to ensure that these men, women, and children are able to arrive home safely each and every night,” said Smith. 

“ATSSA members are looking forward to working alongside strong leaders like Reps. Pappas and Westerman in making roadways safer, reducing fatalities and serious injuries, and keeping our families and communities safe,” added Smith. 

For more information on the Association’s work to educate decision-makers on the federal and state level, and advocacy for roadway safety infrastructure policies and funding, visit ATSSA.com/Advocacy.


NATSO Commends Lawmakers for Urging Extension of the Biodiesel Tax Credit

Alexandria, VA… NATSO, representing America’s travel plazas and truckstops, today issued the following statement with regard to a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). The letter was signed by 40 Members of Congress urging Democratic leadership to support extending the biodiesel tax credit and other clean energy tax extenders. The following statement can be attributed to NATSO’s Vice President of Government Relations, David Fialkov.

“This letter is an extraordinary showing of support for the biodiesel tax credit and other clean energy tax policies. What is especially significant is the ideological and geographic diversity of the Democrats who signed this letter. Many of them have very difficult re-election campaigns ahead of them next year. The fact that lawmakers representing places such as Oklahoma City, Upstate New York, Salt Lake City, and Southern California—areas far from the farming Midwest—strongly support biofuels incentives underscores the economic and environmental benefits that these clean energy tax extenders bring to their communities. NATSO is grateful to Representatives Abby Finkenauer and Kendra Horn for their continued leadership.