MINUTES OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON AUGUST
3, 2017 AT THE BERKS COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION CONFERENCE ROOM ON THE
FOURTEENTH FLOOR OF THE BERKS COUNTY SERVICES CENTER
Kufro PennDOT 5-0, Chair*
Green, PennDOT Central
Alan D. Piper, Berks County Planning Commission
Tim Krall, City of Reading
Golembiewski, Berks County Planning Commission
Jeff Glisson for Dave Kilmer, SCTA/BARTA
COMMITTEE MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING
Terry Sroka, Reading Regional Airport
E. Johnson, City of Reading
Kerry Fields, PennDOT 5-0
Gene Porochniak, PennDOT Central
Shannon Rossman, Berks County
Regina Zdradzinski, Berks
County Planning Commission
David Berryman, Berks County
Bill Royer for Ryan McKenzie
Jay Vaughan, Spring Township
Robert Schoenen, STV
Beth Brelje, Reading Eagle
David Kostival, Reading Eagle
CALL TO ORDER
Kufro called the meeting to order at 1:30 p.m.
APPROVAL OF TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF JULY 13, 2017
Kufro asked if there were and questions or comments to the July 13, 2017
Technical Committee Meeting minutes.
Mr. Green made a motion to approve the July
13, 2017 Technical Committee minutes. Mr. Krall seconded the motion and it passed
Vaughan, from Spring Township, mentioned the fatal accidents on Rt. 222 South,
between the Broadcasting Road interchange and the off ramp to Rt. 12 near the
Berkshire Mall. Traffic backs up on the
off-ramp back towards Broadcasting Road interchange. There were a few fatal accidents there in the
last couple of years. It comes from
traffic sitting on the mainline and the speed of vehicles heading southbound on
Rt. 222 and rear ending drivers sitting in traffic.
Vaughan wants to know what he must do to get someone to look at this
situation. Chairman Kufro stated that
PennDOT has been working with this committee to initiate having a consultant
work on improvements within the ROW there to help that situation. They are looking at how to utilize the
shoulder area and possibly use it as another traffic lane. This would avoid a weave pattern and build up
more capacity. Early warning signs
coming up over the crest might help, as well.
Mr. Piper said the committee would look at this as a first step to do as
quickly as possible. PennDOT is considering using their open-end contract so
they would not have to bid for a new consultant. The original design of the interchange worked
fine for the first 15 years. The second
merge point at Rt.12 will have to be looked at.
This will not be a quick fix.
AMENDMENTS/MODIFICATIONS TO FFY 2017-2020 TIP
gave an update on Amendments/Modifications to FFY 2017-2020 Highway TIP from July
10, 2017 through July 27, 2017.
Amendments: There were no Amendments.
Administrative Actions: There were 8
Administrative Actions. One of these
involved the addition of Preliminary
Engineering for safety projects on SR 61 in Perry/Windsor Township and in Tilden
Township The remaining 7 actions reallocated funds within existing projects.
Mr. Glisson stated that SCTA made Transit TIP
Modifications in May 2017 to make adjustments to the interim Section 5307 Funds
that came to Berks County. The Federal
Government recently released their final portion of Section 5307 Funds
nationwide. These Administrative
Actions, based on those figures, make the necessary changes to the projects to
balance the funding sources so they are fiscally constrained with the
allocation in order for the grant to get approved by the FTA. These programs need to be on the TIP. The seven projects and the funding changes
being made to balance the funding sources are listed on the handout.
OF PROPOSED TA-SA FUNDING POLICY
Piper stated that there was a discussion at the last meeting regarding cost
overruns that are associated with the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)
now the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program (TA-SA)). At that time, it was decided that more
discussion was needed regarding this policy.
The Coordinating Committee agreed we are on the right track but they
provided no specific feedback.
there is no current policy, the committee has been handling these requests on
an individual basis. If there is extra
money, we check to see if it can be reassigned to another project. There is no requirement that the project
sponsor has a share in covering these increased costs. There
is also no policy to consider whether we provide additional funding to projects
that were funded through the MPO’s allocation versus projects awarded out of the
Krall stated that he is new to this process and has found out that he has to
hire a designer for the construction phase of a crosswalk project who must
attend a pre-construction meeting. Green Light Go has also changed and these
steps were not considered for the project or initially formulated in the review
for the application. The project
consultant said that all of these extra elements will probably eat up most of
the project’s funding and there will not be enough money left to complete it. Reading might have to deny the project.
Krall stated that he is in favor of a needed policy. This will greatly reduce
or eliminate the escape hatch for projects that are not fully thought through
by the local sponsors. He asked if
there is an educational feature or warning that could be added to let local
sponsors know about these new elements.
Mr. Piper said that, regarding the TA-SA program, applicants this round
are required to have a meeting with both the MPO and the District to talk about their proposed project and estimated
costs. This will let them know which
elements are needed and the scope of costs that will be needed. Mr. Piper said he was not aware of some of
these extra costs either and suggested that maybe, from the Department’s side,
there could be a better outreach to the municipalities to help them understand
the requirements of TA-SA that go along with getting federal dollars. Chairman Kufro stated that TAP projects are
more involved. This Green Light Go
project does seem to be overboard. He is
not familiar with what is going on with it.
Mr. Krall stated that he understands there are changes and that he was
told that this is a PennDOT element project and has to go through all of the
red tape to go through the steps. Mr.
Krall has another current traffic signal intersection project will follow a
more streamline project guideline. Chairman
Kufro asked if this Green Light Go project is a 50% ($12,500) match. Mr. Krall said yes. Reading City would match that with another
$12,500, which is a benefit for Reading.
The project could be done for approximately $20,000, but not under
TA-SA. Mr. Green said he would have to
talk to Baker, who is the consultant for the project. Ms. Rossman asked if a new request could be
submitted for an application change with the same funding. Mr. Piper said that the applicant would
probably have to give up the current funding and resubmit an application. Chairman Kufro stated that the project should
be questioned before it is awarded. Mr.
Krall said that if a local sponsor underestimated the work, shame on them. If they estimated it because they were
ignorant of all the red tape, then the burden will be put on PennDOT’s and/or
the MPO. We don’t want to go back to a
case by case situation.
Glisson asked if the TAP applications go to the state. Mr. Piper stated that there are two options
that are available. We, as a large MPO,
have the option to set up our own separate review program. An applicant would have to submit to the MPO
to be considered for local money and to PennDOT to be considered for the
statewide money. We elected not to do
that and to piggyback on the state selection process where all of the
applications went to PennDOT and get and returned to us for recommendations. Funding can be approved from either or both
the MPO and statewide pools. Mr. Glisson
asked if there is anything in the PennDOT requirements regarding the estimates
that come in to be reviewed by the municipal engineer as part of the process. Mr. Piper said he is not sure but it is one
of those things that PennDOT would be looking at under the new guidance. Staff met with one applicant so far, and has
talked through the process and tried to make them aware of the pitfalls along
the way. It is not municipal dollars,
but federal dollars. Mr. Krall stated
that if you go to public bids, rates will be higher because of that. All of this has to be factored in. Chairman Kufro said that all consultants
working on this program should know this in dealing with the state. Mr. Piper said that if the municipality is
trying to push a project through, they need to use a consultant that is
familiar with the process and knows what needs to be incorporated or at least
have an engineer that is willing to meet with the Department to make sure they
learn what needs to be in there while putting the application together. Chairman Kufro stated that the projects must
be competitively bid and regulations must be followed. Mr. Krall said there should be a comment on
the application form regarding this that the manager can read. Mr. Piper stated that a difference this
round is that it is strongly recommended to meet with the MPO and PennDOT. For TA-SA, if you meet with the MPO and the
District, the applicant gets bonus points.
If you fail to meet with either of them, the applicant is automatically
ineligible to be considered.
Kufro stated that there will be issues that come up on projects that may not be
foreseen. It sounds like the
Coordinating Committee would like this committee to propose something to them
regarding a policy. Mr. Piper said this
is subject to further discussions.
The options, in summary are:
No Funds available: There are no additional funds available. Project sponsor would be responsible to cover
Just say no: Regardless of fund availability, RATS would
not fund any project coverage.
Case-by-Case Basis, No specific contribution set: This would be
a continuation of present practice, where RATS would generally cover 100% of
the overage if funds were available to do so.
50/50 Sponsor and RATS split the overage: RATS would
agree to cover 50% of the overage amount only.
of Overage: RATS would cover 15% of the
overage only. (Staff recommended).
Fixed 15% of Original Amount: RATS
would contribute 15% of original award amount to go towards the overage.
A max percentage and/or max cash limit: RATS would
set a specific percentage and/or cash contribution, whichever is met
first. For this scenario, $15,000 has
Kufro asked what other MPO’s are doing.
Mr. Berryman said that almost everyone is handling their projects on a
case by case basis or following the State’s official policy. No other MPO has adopted a fiscal
Krall asked how the surplus is generated.
Mr. Piper said that when we have a funding cycle through the TAP
program, we tried to allocate all of the dollars available to projects or
maximize what we have and recommended the balance come through statewide
funding. There was never money left in a
reserve account because if a project does not come along, the money just sits
there with a tendency to lapse. The only reserves that we have had in the past
have been from projects that fell through.
The policy was always to spend all of the money.
Piper stated that there were some opportunities at the end of a TIP cycle,
where dollars are left either under TAP, regular STP or STU funds that were
left in a program that was “use them or lose them” by a certain date. Sometimes these funds were tapped into if
there was a need and we could make the project move. These STP and STU dollars are eligible for
other highway projects. The TAP dollars
could only be used for these types of projects.
Piper noted that PennDOT has indicated that there is approximately $1.1 million
available to the Reading MPO to use between FFY 2017 and FFY 2020. Mr. Green stated that MPO’s could retain a
small amount as a reserve, but PennDOT prefers the money be put on a
project. Mr. Krall asked if it could be
awarded to a new project. Mr. Piper said
no. Any project that receives the funds
must be selected through a competitive process that went through a state
program or the MPO program and was recommended for funding.
Rossman asked if the policy would recommend 15% only if the MPO has available
funds. Mr. Piper said yes. We cannot distribute what we don’t have. Mr. Krall pointed out that there appears to be
a lot of reserve that is just sitting there.
Mr. Piper stated that the “reserve” includes both funding for approved
TAP projects that are not yet on the TIP and everything we receive during this
cycle. The money will be used.
Piper stated we, as an MPO, now have the right, if we have TA-SA money left
over, to flex it back to an STP project. Mr. Green said it is a part of the new block
grant rule. Mr. Piper said that it
doesn’t just sit there if we do create a reserve. It can be rolled back and be reassigned to an
active STP funded project. Mr. Green
agreed and said it is per FAST Act. Mr.
Piper stated that it won’t hurt to maintain a minimum reserve out of dollars we
have and to address the overage issues under a policy.
Kufro stated that when a project bid comes in over 50% above the estimate, the
project should be rebid. There needs to
be flexibility. He is in agreement with
the 15% of the overage up to $15,000, if funds are available. Mr. Glisson asked why it is 15%. Mr. Piper said the 15% was an initial
recommendation and subject to change.
Chairman Rebert and Mr. Green both agreed that it should not go higher
than 20%. Ms. Rossman asked if that
would affect the 50% overage scenario.
Mr. Piper said it might depending on the size of the project. A 50% overage is automatic denial and the
project goes to rebid. Below the 50% is
subject to funds available. A 20%
overage covered by MPO and 80% covered by the applicant up to a maximum
contribution by the MPO of $15,000 was suggested. Chairman Kufro stated it is a way to keep the
municipalities and their consultants paying attention to the red tape and have
everything planned properly.
Piper handed out a list of conditions that would document eligible vs. non-eligible
requests for overage funding. Mr.
Glisson said that with unforeseen conditions and the state of the economy, the
market is so tight that there is a tendency to bid high. Mr. Golembiewski asked if a statement could
be put into the policy that “RATS reserves the right to amend this policy or go
above the 15% based on individual circumstances”. Mr. Krall
said people would think it is business as usual and it would undermine the
Green asked if RATS is good with the mixed proposal. Mr. Piper felt that we could live with the
scenarios of: over 50% is out and rebid;
anything less than 50% can fall under the 20% overage up to $15,000, subject to
the availability of funds. It is still
on a “first come first serve basis” for requesting the additional funding.
Piper asked if the list of eligible and non-eligible requests should be left in
the policy. Chairman Kufro said that he
likes the general “catch all” statement.
The eligible requests are the ones that we see.
Mr. Piper stated that this discussion was done
to bring the thought process to the committee.
This could be refined, but there is not another Technical Committee
meeting before the September 2017 Joint Meeting. The draft policy will be sent out to the board
and request feedback via email or telephone.
Hopefully an agreement on the final wording of the draft policy will be
completed before the joint meeting mailing so it can be presented to the
Coordinating Committee for approval. Mr. Berryman stated the purpose for the
Eligible vs. Non-Eligible options is to give the committee time to review the
options. It does not lock you in to be so
extremely specific that it rules everything out.
Glisson suggested keeping some in as an example for future use for committees
to look at if guidelines are being provided to municipalities. If a project
comes along and is not specifically addressed, then the guidelines will help
the MPO decide. Chairman Kufro stated
that he wants to avoid forcing the committee in one direction or another. Some of these statements are locking us in a
direction. The more the options are read,
it does cover every possible situation. Mr.
Porochniak mentioned the annual inflation part above the percent established by
PennDOT. If there is something in the
market that would dictate that, should this be automatically thrown out as a
non-eligible? This straddles the fence
between the circumstance and how it would be interpreted. Mr. Piper said, when looking at a TIP, we
look at the Year of Expenditure and build a 3% per year inflation factor into
the present year’s cost to decide what the award would be for a project. Mr.
Glisson said that this explains that the error could be on the municipality
side regarding how they prepared their project estimate. If
the municipality or consultant errs, that is on them. If there are other defined reasons that are
concurred, then they may be considered.
Mr. Berryman said that it give the committee choices or options. It gives it definition. Mr. Piper stated that this policy only
applies to those portions of projects that we fund using local (MPO) TA-SA
dollars and that we will not be responsible for covering overages for projects
that are funded under the statewide allocation.
This should be part of this policy.
Kufro asked the committee is they want to have further discussion regarding
this policy or pass this along to the Coordinating Committee for approval.
In summary, the proposed policy is as follows:
· Only applies to
TA-SA projects we fund from the MPO’s allocation
· Only applies if
dollars are available in which the decision could be made by our committee
· Any project
more than 50% over budget is automatically subject to being re-scoped and
· Any project
less than 50% over budget, will be considered for participation at 20% of the
overage up to a maximum of $l5,000 per project.
Mr. Piper said that the policy will be cleaned up and
circulated to committee members for feedback.
The goal is to have consensus on the actual wording prior to submitting
it to the Coordinating Committee for final consideration at the September
was no Commuter Services Update.
ON BRIDGE PROJECTS
Chairman Kufro gave an update on the Bridge
projects. (See Attachment).
Mr. Golembiewski asked when the Wall
Street Bridge in Leesport Borough will be closed. Mr. Piper said it is scheduled to be sometime
in August 2017.
TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Mr. Piper stated that we started in May with
the State Transportation Commission’s survey.
Ms. Hain put together a summary of the public survey results that were
received for Berks County. The main
focus of comments was on 222 North and US 422 West Shore Bypass and other places
already being worked on. He said in one form or another, the MPO was already
addressing between 60-70% of the projects that are requested on the
Piper then reviewed the survey results, sorted by municipality, with the
committee. Survey results addressed highway/bridge
recommendations, requests for transit or passenger rail service, and
Piper stated that, in addition to that survey, Ms. Fields went through the TIP
and the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
There is a handout in the packets entitled RATS MPO Estimated Costs for
2019 TIP. The existing TIP projects were
updated and candidate projects from the LRTP were identified. Mr. Piper stated that there are a few bridge
projects included on the LRTP list. Our
plan does not cover all of the structurally deficient bridges, but a few have
been identified. We are also looking to advance the Preliminary
Engineering phase for the last portion of the US 222 North Corridor, which is
not yet programmed. That would go from
the Kutztown Bypass to the Lehigh County line.
Construction funding is starting to be put on the US 422 West Shore
Bypass project. The Preliminary
Engineering phase for the US 422 Sinking Spring project is being advanced from
2019 to 2018. For each update, there is
a commitment to include a Bridge Preservation Line Item to keep addressing
bridges to extend their useful life.
The Bingaman Street Bridge will be grouped in as part of the West Shore
Vaughan asked Mr. Piper how hard it is to get work done on bridges over Norfolk
Southern railroad tracks. The Dwight
Street Bridge in Spring Township gets worse with every inspection. He cannot determine who the main custodian is
for that bridge. Mr. Vaughan does not
want to attempt maintenance if the bridge does not belong to Spring
Piper stated that we are continuing through an agreement to flex $900,000 in
CMAQ to BARTA for use for vehicle replacement.
The projected CMAQ costs for Berks County’s share of the Commuter
Services Program over the course of this period are listed.
Piper stated he met with the District staff regarding their candidate bridge
recommendations. The identified bridges are located: 1) Rt. 61 over the Schuylkill River, south of
I-78; 2) Rt. 568 in Robeson Township; 3) Rt. 662 in Ruscombmanor Township; 3)
Rt. 10 between Caernarvon Township and New Morgan Borough; 4) Rt.
143/Intersection 737 in Albany Township, near Kempton; 5) Rt. 419, north of
Womelsdorf Borough; 6) Rt. 419, south of Rehrersburg; 7) Rt. 645 in Bethel
Township; 8) Donat Road in Greenwich Township; 9) Weavertown Road in Amity
Township; 10) Township Line Road in Amity Township; 11) Removing an old Rt. 82
bridge from inventory; 12) Freemansville Road; 13) Rt. 222 on Kutztown Bypass;
14) Bingaman Street Bridge, which will be incorporated into the Rt. 422
Piper stated that MPO staff prepared a supplemental list of candidate
projects. These included drawing
projects out of the Congestion Management Program, looking at other state
bridges in addition to PennDOT’s candidates, local bridges, and other
congestion and safety-related projects.
Piper said this list contains candidate projects. We need to carry all of the projects on the
program now and then see what dollars are left and draw down from this list of
candidate projects. He asked if there
are any major projects missing from the mentioned candidate list.
Green questioned the rates for Commuter Services. Mr. Piper said these are based on current
rate plus 1% inflation per year. If we
change our commitment, then we look at changing the commitments of the l3
participating counties. The allocation
was always based on a percentage of population.
It is a 1% per year inflation rate built in and based on the current policies
we have with SRTP. Mr. Glisson asked if
the agreement is determining this or is CMAQ determining the agreement. Mr. Piper stated that the Commuter Services
program is funded through the Susquehanna Regional Transportation Partnership (SRTP)
and we contract with AECOM to provide the services. Costs are shared by the
thirteen counties that are involved in the program.
Piper stated that there has been a discussion before regarding a dedicated
local bridge funding source at the state level.
If there is, we can look through our information. There is the need to have a local buy in for
local shares. We need a good local
Piper stated we are still waiting for PennDOT’s Investment Plan information. This
may influence how the MPO elects final priorities. Chairman Kufro stated that RATS is in good
shape with numbers and goals are being met.
Piper stated that CMAQ funding was another issue that needs to be
discussed. Mr. Golembiewski stated that
we go through the process of picking the projects and decide what projects are
moved over from the existing TIP and which project we would like to bring
in. How do we pay for it? The answer is that there are different pots
of money with different set of eligibility criteria for each pot. How do we get those projects to fit those
pots of money? One of the pots of money
is called Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds (CMAQ). This pot of money is specifically used for
projects that help air quality. The
criteria for this funding are: 1) Must
be a transportation project; 2) Located in an air quality non-attainment or maintenance
area; and 3) Have issues with ground level ozone and fine particulate matter
that results in emissions reduction. We
cannot increase emissions. In the past,
if we met these three criterions, we could use CMAQ funding. With FAST Act, a greater emphasis is being
placed on Performance Measures and measuring the impact we have based on all of
these various projects and processes.
FHWA has come out with more stringent guidelines in applying CMAQ funds
to the projects. We must take a more
detailed look at individual projects and come up with a more stringent
selection process and quantifying why we are selecting those projects. FHWA wants to look at emissions reduction and
the cost benefit ratio from individual projects. Certain types of projects have a better rate
of return. Ride Sharing programs like
Commuter Services give us good benefits and emission reductions for the
cost. Other projects not so much. We were told to better document the things we
do but what we do is okay. Staff had a
conference call with Central Office last week.
FHWA wants to see a more stringent selection process undertaken as part
of this TIP cycle. Every project that is
going to have CMAQ funding will have to run through the air quality model,
which is done anyway, or for certain projects like funding for BARTA bus replacements,
will go off of a model spread sheet program where the air quality benefits of
the dollars being used can still be determined.
The process and the results must be documented and submitted as part of
the TIP process. It will be more work on
our end but will be better defined regarding what we do and how we do it. Mr. Piper stated that it does not necessarily
change what we are doing but documenting the process better. It serves as a tool to see where we are allocating
those dollars and move them around between projects to give us a better
return. Scenarios can be run to figure
stated that at the SCTA board meeting in July, a contract was awarded to Nelson
Nygaard Associates for the Transit Development Plan Update. The kick-off
meeting with the consultant and SCTA is August 18, 2017. SCTA is moving forward with this project,
among other things, and it will look at potential service connections between
Berks and Lancaster Counties reaching out to the business community to make
connections regarding employment and job issues. There will be more coordination between the
Lancaster and Berks County MPO’s tapping into resources and the data that is
Mr. Piper stated
that PennDOT’s US 422 West Shore Bypass Reconstruction Open House presentation
will be held on August 15, 2017 at Alvernia University.
Technical/Coordinating Committee meeting will be held on September 21, 2017 at
the Reading Regional Airport at 1:30 PM.
MOTION: Mr. Krall made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Green seconded the motion and the meeting
was adjourned at 3:30 PM.
/s/Alan D. Piper