Wolf outlines plan for pothole repairs

June 2, 2018 GMT

Gov. Tom Wolf joined Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards this week to discuss the details of Resurface PA, the administration’s new statewide initiative to accelerate repaving work on interstates and attack potholes across Pennsylvania.

“This is a problem that plagues Pennsylvanians every year, but after this winter season we are accelerating repairs and much-needed projects to improve travel in the short term and in the future,” Wolf said. “Resurface PA is our latest step to improve roadways across the state and enhance our roadways’ safety and condition.”

Following a long winter season with dramatic temperature swings, last week the governor announced that PennDOT is mounting an aggressive campaign to accelerate repaving work on interstates and attack potholes. A significant part of the work will be financed using savings from other projects since the governor took office.

Wolf directed PennDOT to dedicate as many resources as possible to pothole and pavement repairs. The department has prioritized $22.3 million for immediate pothole repairs statewide through June 30, which translates into nearly 30,000 tons of patching material.

An additional $7 million will be invested in seven interstate maintenance projects covering potholes and other repairs on 78 miles of roads this year.

Other new investments to help address the effects of this year’s particularly long and difficult winter include:

$30 million in transportation infrastructure investment funding for interstate improvements.

$60 million in PennDOT investments from interstate-project bid savings being reinvested in resurfacing.

$62 million in additional funding for interstate preservation projects.

Together, these commitments will make 17 interstate paving and preservation projects covering 255 miles happen at least two years sooner than scheduled, with projects beginning this year and next year.

These accelerated projects, which will preserve the pavement surfaces for at least five to six years, build on the 85 interstate projects covering more than 775 miles that are underway or expected to begin or finish this year.

“Resurface PA builds on our significant and ongoing investments on rural and urban roadways alike,” Richards said. “This initiative has made more resources available to accelerate years of interstate improvements while continuing our crews’ ongoing hard work.”

Through the end of April, PennDOT crews had used nearly 23,000 tons of asphalt repairing potholes statewide, equal to the weight of roughly 1,500 PennDOT dump trucks. In comparison, PennDOT had used 15,418 tons of asphalt by the same time in 2017, and 14,673 tons in 2016.

PennDOT has spent more than $17 million on pothole repairs statewide through the end of April.

Black Caucus applauds vote to change headgear policy

State Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) and state Sen. Shariff Street (D-3) applauded the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s vote to change its policy on headgear following protest from the Muslim community.

Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with Street and other members of the caucus, joined the protest after 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King was excluded from participating in a basketball game because she refused to remove her hijab.

“I applaud the PIAA for protecting the rights of children of all faiths in this commonwealth to participate in athletic events while maintaining their religious and cultural identities,” Harris said. “I thank my colleague Senator Street for taking the lead on this issue on behalf of the Black Caucus. Additionally, I thank members of the Muslim community and of all faiths for standing up against this injustice, but lastly, and most importantly, I thank young Ms. Nasihah Thompson-King for the strength of her convictions.”

“The PIAA’s historic decision to remove guidelines that unduly burden the free exercise of religion for student athletes is in compliance with the law, morally sound and victory for American values, the foundation of which was established here in Philadelphia in our great commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Street said. “The collective action of my colleagues, the Muslim community and, most importantly, the courage of Nasihah Thompson-King is inspiring. We are proud of the PIAA’s willingness to lead responsibly and protect our youth.”

Sen. Casey vocal on reports of abuse of migrant children

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey issued a statement following a report released by the ACLU alleging widespread abuse of migrant children by immigration officials.

“Recent allegations of widespread abuse of migrant children by immigration officials is nothing short of horrifying,” he said. “Anyone who inflicts harm against minors and children should be held accountable and punished. The abuse of children is an insult to the values on which this country was founded. Human beings, no matter their ethnicity, religious background, sexuality or age, deserve to be treated with decency and respect.”