MINUTES OF THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON MARCH 16, 2017 IN THE BERKS COUNTY PLANNING
COMMISSION CONFERENCE ROOM ON THE FOURTEENTH FLOOR OF THE BERKS COUNTY SERVICES
Michael Rebert, PennDOT 5-0, Chair
Jim Ritzman, PennDOT Central
Kevin S. Barnhardt, County of Berks
Donna Reed, City of Reading
James Mason, Berks County
Dave Kilmer, SCTA/BARTA
Randall Swan, Reading Regional
Joseph E. Rudderow, III, 2nd
Class Townships (Maidencreek Township)
Stephen H. Price,
MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING
Tony Sacco, 1st
Class Townships (Cumru Township)
*Tie-breaking Vote only
Ray Green, PennDOT Central
Kerry Fields, PennDOT 5-0
Shannon Rossman, Berks County
Alan D. Piper, Berks County
Michael Golembiewski, Berks
County Planning Commission
Devon Hain, Berks County
Regina Zdradzinski, Berks
County Planning Commission
David Berryman, Berks County
Marta Gabriel, Senator Toomey
Bill Royer, Ryan McKenzie
John Slifko, City of Reading
Matt Boyer, Commuter Services
Gail Landis, Greater Reading
Chamber & Economic Development Corporation
Bob Ludgate, Sinking Spring
Diane Hollenbach, Maidencreek
Felix Colon, AIM
Angel Torres, AIM
Liam Migdail-Smith, Reading
1. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Rebert called the meeting
to order at 1:30 p.m.
2. REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF COORDINATING COMMITTEE MINUTES
OF JANUARY 19, 2017
Rebert asked if there were any questions or comments to the January 19, 2017 Coordinating
Committee Meeting minutes.
MOTION: Mr. Mason made a motion to approve the January
19, 2017 Coordinating Committee Meeting minutes. Commissioner Barnhardt seconded the motion
and it passed unanimously.
Mr. Piper stated that he was contacted yesterday by
Senator Casey’s office. They are
interested in putting together an event in April 2017 regarding Transportation
Infrastructure Funding with a tentative date for April 18, 2017 late AM. They invited RATS to be a participant in that
and will be contacting other organizations in the community. Mr. Piper wanted to see if there are any
board members that would be interested in participating in this event.
BY PENNDOT DEPUTY SECRETARY JIM RITZMAN ON PENNDOT CONNECTS POLICY
Mr. Ritzman stated that PennDOT Connects requires
collaboration with stakeholders before projects scopes of work are developed. It transforms our project development by
ensuring that community collaboration happens early so that each project is
considered in a holistic way for opportunities to improve safety, mobility,
access, environmental outcomes for all modes and all local contexts.
Mr. Ritzman stated that it is about making sure we
work with communities earlier than we typically do with the project design so
we have an opportunity to incorporate the community’s interests into
projects. We realize that the investment
we make in a community is more than the road.
It impacts a community in many different ways. We are talking about partnerships and
collaboration. We value planning matters. If you have done a corridor study or
bicycle/pedestrian plan, those kinds of documents are helpful as we look
long-term in order to decide what a project should look like. Municipal transportation plans matter more
than they have in the recent past. We
are looking at things in different directions regarding bicycle/pedestrian
issues, where schools are located and the kind of land use activities that are
taking place. Is there a business that
is expanding that a local community may be aware of versus someone at PennDOT?
explained that the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) is a
collaborative effort between academia, contractors, designers, FHWA, and state
agencies. This would cover if there is
a state activity that someone knows about and is a common practice in another
state, and there are things that we should be incorporating into our projects. This is the venue of the STIC. One of the most commonly used innovations is
high friction surfaces. If there is a
roadway that is experiencing run-off road accidents that occur, just by
incorporating more innovative technology into a particular project, these are
the kind of things we are looking at.
Mr. Ritzman stated that there are five (5) things the
Department is trying to do:
Policy – There is
a signed document from the Secretary talking about what PennDOT Connects is all
about. We are following up with
training, executive sessions with MPO’s and RPO’s across the state and
leadership teams in each of our districts.
2) Beginning in April, 2017, we will start with the first round of
Planning and Engineering 360, which is looking at how a project develops from a
number of different angles. There is
terminology that engineers use differently than planners. This is understanding the roles and
responsibilities of each person along the way.
3) Outreach will be done with local government across Pennsylvania. 4) PennDOT’s
Design Manual will be updated to make sure what is being put in place will be
consistent with what we are telling people to do. 5) We want to encourage planner positions in
each of our PennDOT’s districts.
Mr. Ritzman stated that every role, responsibility and
individual has a different aspect of a PennDOT project and have a certain set
of strategies and perspectives in mind. Most
of the time, the projects that are being advanced are Asset Preservation
projects. The District is trying to keep
the road or bridge in a certain condition.
Capacity and safety is also looked at.
It is important to recognize that where roads are located; there are
also people’s houses, businesses, churches, universities, park, and
Mr. Ritzman stated that the closer you look, the more
you see. The closer you listen, the more
you hear. This is the essence of what
PennDOT Connects is. It is making sure
you have the right team around the table to talk about what is in the best
interest of the community you are working in and knowing that the PennDOT
project is a big investment in that community.
Considering all of the users is another important piece.
Mr. Ritzman shared an example of a District 5 PennDOT
Connects project would be. Fleetwood
Borough/662 Reconstruction project is a project where, by having a conversation
early on and collaborating with the community you are in, maybe utilities, ADA
compliant sidewalks/curbing, and traffic signals could be upgraded.
Mr. Ritzman stated that the whole idea of doing
PennDOT Connects early in a process is to make sure there is enough time to
make decisions. There are a lot of
opportunities to help align resources if people know in advance what is
happening. Knowing early in the process
of how communities can work together to get the most bang out of the investment
that is taking place is good.
Mr. Ritzman is responsible for overseeing the
Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
He stated that the scoring process will be retooled in order to give
bonus point for using the PennDOT Connects process to coordinate this program
with other projects.
Mr. Ritzman stated that on March 2l, 2017 at 6:30 PM,
the Public Outreach Process starts for the 2019 program update. This will be a
live internet presentation by Secretary of Transportation Richards and the
State Transportation Commission. It will also be recorded for watching at a
Mr. Price asked if PennDOT Connects is for the
District’s projects or is this for us to do something. Mr. Ritzman said it is for our projects and
make sure it is done for everything.
Chairman Rebert stated that District 5-0 had a
conference call with the Reading and Lehigh Valley MPO’s, who are the planning
partners in District 5-0, to try to lay out the initial projects that the
Department will be reviewing under PennDOT Connects and how it will be
coordinated with the MPO’s to make sure they have the right people from the
municipalities at these meetings when we hold field views, and find out what
are their long range plans and needs and how they might be accommodated.
Mr. Piper stated that there are two parts to this new
program. First we can look at it based
on what we have in the TIP. The
immediate concern is to address any project that has just begun or is about to
begin the Preliminary Engineering process.
But, it is not only about what is listed in the TIP now. It is
looking ahead as projects are being developed for inclusion in the TIP and LRTP. Having these meetings early in the process is
a big help in ensuring a proper scope of work.
Reverting back to Mr. Price’s question, Commissioner
Barnhardt asked if PennDOT has to be involved because they are PennDOT roads or
can it be something that PennDOT supports on a municipal project. Mr. Price explained his example. He said that in Wernersville Borough, with
the repaving of Penn Avenue, he cannot remember if coordination of the signals
at the intersections with Stitzer Avenue and Werner was discussed. If a discussion would have been coordinated a
few years ago, they could have had Liquid Fuel money in reserves; it could have
helped if this would have been done. He
did say there was good cooperation with PennDOT. Mr. Piper said that that is the point of the
PennDOT Connects Program. This new
process comes before we ever get to that and Wernersville would have had the
opportunity to identify their issues. Things like signal timing can be incorporated
into the project. Mr. Ritzman said that sometimes
construction restrictions can be included in a contract. If you want to accelerate work in a
particular area, it may cost more but it is something to be mindful of. There are so many aspects of trying to make
an investment in the community regarding timing matters.
Mr. Ritzman said feedback received so far has been
good. PennDOT enhances relationships
with municipalities by sitting down with them and finding out their issues and
how to solve them.
Mr. Rudderow asked if PennDOT is looking at land use
as well. Mr. Ritzman said
absolutely. That is one of the areas
where PennDOT is weak and needs to latch on with the MPO and the community who
knows what is going on. PennDOT wants to
make sure they understand the solutions being recommended are the ones that
make lasting meaningful investments in the community. Land use is critical. Mr. Rudderow applauded the effort and said
it is important. In the past, it has
caused confusion and resistance. Most of
the municipal leaders are looking to make sure they protect their respective
communities by having that open conversation early enough in the process. In the past, there was a feeling of PennDOT
not listening to concerns of the municipalities and doing what they wanted to
do. If this program is designed to help
rid that confusion and get everyone moving in the same direction, he thinks
things will go a lot easier. Mr. Ritzman
said the idea is to get the issues resolved early in the process. Mr. Rudderow
stated that citizens going to a public meeting would feel that their comments
and concerns are going to be listened to and heard. That helps to create the unity within a
community. This effort has been needed
for a long time.
PENNDOT ROAD MAINTENANCE AND PRESERVATION (ROAD MAP) PROGRAM
Chairman Rebert stated that, with this upcoming
budget, Governor Wolf has rolled out a plan to invest an additional $2.1
billion for highways and bridges through this ROAD MAP Program. Where does the $2.1 billion comes from? He stated that it was noted in the past that
the State Police are partially funded as a motor license fund entity. As part of the last budget, there was an
agreement that the State Police would be capped at approximately $800 million. Over a 10 year period, it would be cut back to
$500 million. A large majority of that
$1.2 billion over a 10-year period is that reduction of the State Police
funding being returned for use on the roads.
There are additional funds ($63
million) that come along, if approved, by imposing the $25 per capita fee for
municipalities that use the State Police.
Of that $2.1 billion, $500 million would be invested
in the Interstates. Chairman Rebert
stated that business plans for each district were done a few months ago. Most of the Districts said they need more
money put into the Interstate system. $600
million of this funding will be distributed for capital improvements on the
rest of the highway system. The remaining
$1billion over the next ten years goes into the Districts’ Maintenance Program,
which has been flat over the past ten years.
Mr. Ritzman stated that there is also information
regarding local bridge bundling for those who have taken the much appreciated
step of implementing the $5 vehicle registration fee and wanting to invest in
their communities. PennDOT is adding a
match to whatever you put in, up to $2 million, to deal with bridges. This gives
more flexibility to generate more money.
Commissioner Barnhardt asked when Berks County can apply. Mr. Ritzman said he would provide
instructions for applying. There are not
many details in the program yet. There are l4 counties that have adopted the
fee and are eligible to participate and the Department wants to know how each
one wants to proceed. Commissioner
Barnhardt asked what the total pool of money is. Mr. Ritzman said the amount is up to $2
million per county. Mr. Piper said that
the money you match it with cannot be existing transportation resources. Mr. Ritzman said you can match it with the $5
Mr. Ritzman noted that FHWA is pushing the TIP dollars
to the higher networks. There are
performance measures they are requiring that have caused the Department to
change its approach. As the maintenance
dollars went down across the state, the lower traffic roads were the ones
getting the most abuse. One of the
intents of ROADMAP was to allow additional resources to go to those lower
volume roads that have been ignored for quite a number of years. Chairman Rebert stated that millings have
been reused in Berks County. When one of
the higher level network roads is milled, the left over millings have been put
into a portable mill and the Department makes their own asphalt from those
millings to pave the lower level roads.
FEDERAL CERTIFICATION REVIEW FINAL REPORT
Piper stated that the Federal Certification Review looking at our planning
processes was completed last fall. The
final report for this review was received on March 3, 2017. We passed the Federal Certification Review
and our program was found to be compliant with the appropriate
Piper stated that the review can contain Corrective Actions, Recommendations or
Commendations. Corrective Actions are items that need to be addressed
immediately or as soon as possible. We have
not received any this time.
give direction to improving our existing processes. Recommendations were received relating to the
development of Performance Measures. We
have basic Performance Measures in our Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
already. The review recommended that we
adjust those Performance Measures to be consistent with those currently under
development at the federal and state levels.
Piper stated that there were three Recommendations relating to our Congestion
Management Process: 1) Continue to
improve our efforts to track and analyze projects and document their
effectiveness; 2) Look at non-recurring
congestion in the plan; and 3) Increased
the level of understanding of freight’s role in in that congestion and how to
address this and eliminate freight bottlenecks.
Piper stated that there were three Recommendations related to Title VI Non-
discrimination and the Limited-English Proficiency Plan: 1) Need to translate vital documents into
Spanish and distribute to those organizations with relevant constituencies; 2)
Continue to work with those groups so they have access to the information and
we have access to their opinions; and, 3) FHWA is committed to working with us
and helping implement these issues as we move forward.
Piper stated that there are five Commendations in the review: 1) Highly applauded
our efforts in developing the new LRTP.
They said, “It is very readable and understandable. It conveys important
information and graphics on the current conditions of the transportation
system. This thorough and comprehensive
document is a statewide, noteworthy practice and the FHWA plans to showcase
this as a model for other MPO’s and RPO’s around the state.” Mr. Piper said he is proud of the effort the
staff put into preparing this plan and is happy that we have been recognized by
the FHWA; 2) For utilizing a robust and innovative public involvement process
in developing the LRTP; 3) For taking a
proactive approach to implementing Performance Measures into this plan; 4) For
developing the updated 2016 Congestion Management Program, identifying the 33
corridors around the county, documenting the issues with these corridors, and
using additional data resources; and 5) The South Central Transit Authority
(SCTA) was commended for their successful consolidation of management
operations for the BARTA and Red Rose systems.
Rudderow and the rest of the committee thanked the staff for their efforts on
the plan and the balance of the planning process.
BOROUGH PROPOSAL FOR SUPPORT OF FASTLANE
Mr. Piper stated that Sinking
Spring Borough is working on their project to revitalize the borough with a
4-phase process of projects to re-align intersections and provide parallel
roads. The first 2 of those projects are
funded and are in the design process with the 3rd project staged and
looking for dollars. The key to the
project is the intersection realignment at Rt. 422/724/ Mull Avenue, which is a
bottleneck in the area.
Mr. Piper stated that
Sinking Spring Borough had approached us about the idea of going for a FASTLANE
grant. It is a new economic development
based grant program to move freight in the federal legislation. It is a discretionary program that only can be
applied for projects that are on the official freight networks. Because of the fact that the gas distribution
facilities in Sinking Spring Borough are designated as an intermodal terminal,
Rts. 422/724 are the connectors to that site.
The idea of doing a project that eliminates that bottleneck is
consistent with the program.
Mr. Piper stated that Sinking Spring Borough made two specific requests
to the Technical Committee: 1) Can we
advance the Preliminary Engineering phase of the project that is currently
programmed to look at the 422/724 intersection?
It is in the current TIP for Preliminary Engineering to begin in FFY
2019. Can this be advanced to FFY 2018,
which would begin October 2017; and could the consultant selection begin as
soon as possible? 2) Would this committee be willing to work with the borough on
an application under the FASTLANE Grant Program to provide additional funding
for the remaining phases of that project?
Mr. Piper stated that the Technical Committee decided
that it was appropriate to advance the PE phase of the project to FFY 2018 if
the resources were available. We were
not prepared to give a blanket endorsement of a FASTLANE grant application at
this time because there is no application ready at this time. It was agreed to work with Sinking Spring
Borough, the Department and FHWA to find out what is necessary in putting one
of these applications together and to see what is the best way and time to
bring it back to this board for consideration for formal endorsement. The project is not currently in a position to
be ready to look for any kind of application for this year. It is definitely something that can be
considered as we move forward in this program. We needed to bring it back to this board to
get your opinions regarding the idea of relocating the project in the TIP and
whether or not to continue to work with Sinking Spring Borough on the FASTLANE
Mr. Ludgate stated that this project is dealing with
two intersections in Sinking Spring that are misaligned. Demolition has been done to allow the first
intersection to be moved with cooperation with PennDOT and their Rt. 422
Betterment project. That design will
accommodate extra-long tanker trucks that cannot be accommodated now. That will remove the need for tanker trucks
to use Woodrow Avenue, which is a residential street in the borough. There is substantial industrial activity for
petroleum products along Mountain Home Road in the borough. That area is served with four pipelines, two
are Texas Eastern near Mountain Home Road and two come into Montello Road,
across the borough line at the Sunoco Logistics Facilities. The Mariner East Pipeline, which will go to
construction this year, shows additional pipelines in Sinking Spring
Borough. Two pipelines that currently
feed the Sunoco Logistic Facilities will be increased substantially with lager
pipelines. It is unclear if this
facility with have two larger pipelines or a total of four pipelines. There is an additional pipeline that will
serve propane products facility on Mountain Home Road. It looks like now we will have six or seven
pipelines in the borough.
Mr. Ludgate stated that there is a problem regarding
the tanker trucks that serve the petroleum industry. It appears that we are going to have a
substantial increase in tanker traffic and a much more urgent congestion
situation because of the Mariner East pipeline and the additional facilities
coming into Sinking Spring Borough, which is an area that already has a
Mr. Ludgate stated that FASTLANE is a federal program
that is not funded through the allocated funds on the TIP; it comes directly
from FHWA through PennDOT. The only way
we can apply is if PennDOT makes the application for us. The reason we are here now is that we need to
get started early because the application period should come in December
2017. If we are not ready for December
of this year, we want to be ready for December 2018. This program offers money that currently
doesn’t come into this District and it offers a great potential to solve this
Mr. Ludgate stated that every consideration given by
this committee would be greatly appreciated.
The advance of the Preliminary Engineering is very significant. If we
can get into the FASTLANE project, we can make application sooner.
Rebert stated that there is an opportunity to free up some money in Engineering
to get this project moving in the next federal fiscal year. Mr. Ludgate stated
that they are presently funded from PennDOT’s Multi-modal fund and from the CFA
Multi-modal for a substantial amount of money to which we want to build a
connection to the intersection being realigned as part of the Betterment
project. They want to get the first leg
of the road going towards Rts. 724/422.
There is roughly $1.8 million in grant money that needs to be put into
play in short order. They have to be
sure the phases they are building correctly relate to the phase that gets built
as a PennDOT, and hopefully, FASTLANE project.
Rossman asked if it is the borough’s responsibility to apply for the grant and
not RATS responsibility. Mr. Piper said
the application can come directly from the borough or the MPO and does not have
to go through PennDOT. Each public
organization is allowed up to three submissions. We need to learn the process before an
application would be filed. Today, we
are looking to see if the board would agree on advancing the project to PE in
2018 and authorize staff to continue to work with the Department, FHWA and
Sinking Spring Borough in considering if the development of an application to
be submitted by the appropriate level.
Chairman Rebert said we can look at this and make a modification later
in order to move forward with the project.
TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM PROJECTS AND POLICY DISCUSSION
Mr. Piper stated that there are two issues that came
about in the past few months. Things
have been happening while trying to wrap up some of the older TAP
projects. One of the issues was detailed
on the handout sheet. If you look at all
9 of the projects together, some of them go as far back as 2007. We are approximately $100,000 over budget. Out of that, however, there is almost
$600,000 worth of projects that were deferred.
The seven projects that actually moved through the program were
originally awarded just short of $2 million for implementation. It is now
anticipated the costs coming in at $2.7 million or more than $700,000 over
budget. In some cases, money was floated
within TAP and other cases money was borrowed from STU or STP funding, which
are federal dollars that are not going to the NHPP system.
Mr. Piper stated that an immediate issue surfaced in
the past few weeks. The Cumru Township
project and the Berks County Redevelopment Authority projects went out for
bids. Both project bids were roughly
double their original costs. Cumru Township’s pavement marking project came in
at $39,000. The Berks County
Redevelopment Authority was working with the Colebrookdale Railroad related to
a $203,000 grant. The bid came in at
roughly $400,000. We needed to decide how
to handle them. Cumru Township had a
deadline to either accept the bid or drop the project. The decision we made was that it was better to
spend the additional $14,000 on the project and get in completed. For the Berks County Redevelopment Authority
project, that is different. He is not
sure if we can give it an extra $219,000 to implement that. The Colebrookdale Railroad is a non-profit
organization, so they had to go through the Berks County Redevelopment
Authority. The Authority can be an
advocate for them. The applicants have
until April l5, 2017 to decide if they will accept or reject their award. For a project that was too far over budget,
we would not automatically take their dollars away from them but would consider
either asking them to rescope the project and rebid it in order to get a lot
closer to their grant award or consider cancelling the project and reallocating
the funding later.
Among the three projects selected in this year’s cycle,
there is $1.7 million on the table. Small
overruns on projects are not generally a problem; larger overruns on big
projects would cause major problems. We
need to decide how to handle these issues.
The first recommendation would be to request to the
Berks County Redevelopment Authority reject the bid, rescope and readvertise
their project. In the event that the
applicant is unable or unwilling to do so, we can then cancel the project: The
second issue, still being discussed with the Technical Committee, is to decide whether
or not to develop a policy moving forward.
There is currently a policy written into the program guidance from
PennDOT that says that the applicant is responsible for any overages. However, we, along with other areas across
the state have taken the opportunity to try to implement some of these projects
when funding is available. We cannot
always do that. Do we draw a hard line
in the sand and say that anytime a project is over budget, the project sponsor
is going to be responsible for all costs that go beyond the original award? Do we come up with a mix? Do we continue to do what we are doing now
and treat the projects on a case by case basis and look to fund it out of
available dollars? Do we set some type
of potential local rule where a difference is split with a sponsor (50/50) from
state funding or some other formula?
Ms. Gabriel asked, along those lines, are recipients
required to return the money. Mr. Piper
said that the applicants don’t actually receive the money if they don’t move
forward with the project. All of these
are reimbursement agreements. If the
applicants decide to execute their reimbursement agreement and move forward,
all of the money stays with PennDOT until invoices are submitted.
Mr. Swan said that every one of these signed
agreements says that the applicant is responsible for everything over the
bid. In practice, every time they go
over the bid they ask us for additional money.
The only reason we have been able to do that so far is because those two
other projects were canceled and we had money in the program that was not
committed to something. It was easier to
assign it to an existing project than to give the money to a new project. Mr. Swan said that it always comes down to
the money. We have a rule that says the
sponsor is responsible for any overages.
We have been covering the overages and only because this one in
particular becomes so outrageously over, now we are talking about it. Mr. Piper said that is not true. Sinking Spring Borough has a project on this
list for $355,000 and they have an exact match. The project that was originally
bid came in at $800,000. The borough
re-scoped the project and brought it back in line with the dollars that were
available. Mr. Piper recommends that we
do that with the Berks County Redevelopment Authority. It is acknowledged that there is more we can
require from the applicants to do as they are putting their original
applications together such as requiring a much higher level of review with the
MPO and PennDOT in terms of the scope of the project and the budget. If the applicant does not have our review and
PennDOT’s review before the application is submitted, you may lose points or
will not be considered for the program.
Mr. Piper stated there are two things we can do: 1) tighten up our procedures and try to get
better projects coming in the front door; 2) understand that every project may
result in a cost overrun. The Technical
Committee is looking for feedback from this committee to put a plan together. Ms. Gabriel asked what the local match
is. Mr. Piper said that technically it
is an 80% TAP program/20% local match. PennDOT
has agreed, in the past, that as long as
the applicant takes care of all pre-construction activities and costs, the Department
and the grant would cover 100% of the construction costs.
Mr. Rudderow asked why these projects double in
cost. Mr. Piper stated that this is the
only project (Colebrookdale) where he saw the post bid review. There were odd prices in it like material
costs that seemed way out of line. He is
not sure of other construction estimates.
Mr. Piper stated that every application is supposed to look at the
cost. The application should not be
based on the current cost of the project; it should be based on what you think
the cost of the project is going to be in the year you are going to implement
it. Mr. Rudderow said that the date that
it was estimated was 2007 and it is now 2017.
Mr. Piper said that no one expects projects to hang around for ten
years. We are trying not to have those
kinds of projects as we move forward. Mr.
Rudderow compared another project that went from 2014 to 2017 that doubled in
price. Maybe these applicants think we
will cough up the money to finish their project. Chairman Rebert stated that, while we are
picking the projects, we are not matching the rest of it. We can ask them how they came up with their
costs and decide if this is working or not working. Mr. Swan said yes to that idea. It is a step in the right direction. We cannot keep covering overages “just
because”. Every dollar that we cover is
one less dollar we get to use elsewhere.
We need to have realistic estimates.
These bids come in way out of whack.
We need to tighten up the rules and the process so we receive realistic
estimates. Mr. Price stated that we have
a finite budget for Transportation Alternatives. This money cannot be used for anything other
than these particular kinds of projects.
Mr. Piper agreed. Mr. Price asked
how much do we have per year. Mr. Piper
said about $270,000 per year and make project recommendations to cover a
two-year time frame. We allocated all of
the $445,000 for the 18th Wonder project and allocated the balance
towards the Birdsboro project. Birdsboro
Borough got the major share of its funding from the statewide allocations. The Schuylkill River Trail project got all of
its funds from the statewide allocation.
Ms. Reed asked if
the 18th Wonder project went through the City of Reading. Mr. Piper said yes. She asked if there was an
intermediate group involved with that.
Mr. Piper said they worked with ReDesign Reading and the 18th
Wonder Steering Committee in developing the scope and working with the City of
Reading. The actual application was
submitted by the City of Reading. There
is no money that went anywhere. While
the money has been allocated, none of these projects has signed an agreement
yet. Ms. Reed wanted to be clear that
the agreement on the l8th Wonder project would be from the City of
Reading. Mr. Piper said yes. Ms. Reed said there is no other intermediate
group funneling money. Mr. Piper said
Mr. Piper said that there are issues with these
projects (l8th Wonder, Schuylkill River Trail and Birdsboro Borough) that need
to be resolved. There was a kickoff
meeting with Birdsboro Borough and the City of Reading. Birdsboro has their funding in place and are
doing curb cuts in an area and the project will be scaled to match the dollars
that are available. Because we have city
projects promoted by outside organizations, in the case of the 18th
Wonder organization and the case of the Schuylkill River Trail coming through
Berks Nature, there are unresolved issued with coordination between the original
proposals. Ms. Reed is more concerned
about the Schuylkill River Trail project than the 18th Wonder
project. Mr. Piper said that the
Schuylkill River Trail project has $910,000 of statewide TAP dollars but the
original grant application for the project also relied on an equivalent
$910,000 DCNR grant that no one is sure exists.
Mr. Mason stated that he is looking at the
projects. Of the seven projects, three
of them are over 100% over budget; one is 56% over budget; and two came in at
2% and 4.3%. Mr. Swan asked Mr. Piper if
he suggests that we move forward with the Cumru Township project, considering
it is $14,000 over budget. Mr. Piper
said that we have already acted to fund that project. Mr. Swan said that this
list is important and should be brought before this committee for
recommendations. Anything over budget
should be put on the table. Mr. Piper
counts the Cumru Township project as a learning experience. Technically, we created a local rule for that
project to begin with. We lowered the
minimum eligibility on the program. The
original eligibility was $50,000 or greater.
Sometimes the cost of using federal money is more than what you are
receiving. For small projects, it will
not be worth it. Mr. Swan said there
will be overruns, but they should be in the light of day and there is a need to
be fiscally responsible. The committee should talk about it and put the
feedback back onto the project initiator.
Mr. Rudderow agrees with Mr. Swan and thinks that a project should not
be let go for ten years before there is a high overage. There should be a time period to look at the
projects so these issues don’t spiral out of control.
Mr. Piper will pass the recommendation onto the Berks
County Redevelopment Authority to consider either re-scoping the project or
voiding the project. We will continue to
work on tightening our policies for potential recommendations at a future
REQUESTED AMENDMENTS/MODIFICATIONS TO FFY 2017 TIP
Ms. Fields gave an update on Amendments/Modifications
to FFY 2017-2020 Highway TIP from January 5, 2017 through February 23, 2017.
Amendments - There were no Amendments during this period.
Actions – There were 22 Administrative Actions impacting the Reading
TIP. One of these broke out and shelved
a bridge on SR 1026 that was repaired rather than replaced. A second action added the two TAP projects
that received funding from the statewide pool.
The balance involved reallocating funds within existing projects to
account for changing needs.
Piper stated that he still has not received an official letter from Reading
regarding the cancellation of the Rockland Street project. Ms. Reed said she would remind Mr. Johnson
Rudderow asked, out of the TAP projects, which ones are getting funded. Ms. Fields stated that the two new projects
getting added to the TIP are Cumru Township and Birdsboro Borough Sidewalks. Mr. Piper said there are no bids out for these
projects yet. They are just being
reallocated from the statewide TAP Line Item and assigned to our local TIP and
will be the reserve for these projects when they get to construction.
UPDATE ON FFY
2019 PROGRAM UPDATE KICKOFF
Mr. Piper stated that the update for
the FFY 2019 TIP is starting relatively early this year. It starts with the State Transportation
Commission doing their initial round of project and issue solicitation by their
web page (www.TalkPATransportation.com). There will
be an online survey beginning this coming Monday. It will be available through April 19,
2017. The public is invited to share
feedback through that time. There will
also be an on-line public meeting held by Ms. Leslie Richards, the Secretary of
Transportation, which will be on at 6:30 pm on March 21, 2017. The Secretary will do a general overview of
the past program and identify key issues affecting the future. There might be opportunities for calling in
during the meeting. Pre-registration for
the meeting is required via the website.
Mr. Piper stated that the Department
does some advertising for the meeting and we will be using our website,
Facebook resources and email to notify the public. We will do a follow-up and have a local
solicitation for project input as well.
SUPPLEMENTAL UPWP FUNDING REQUEST
Piper stated that, last year, we requested an additional $30,000 in transit
planning funding to be used by the South Central Transit Authority (SCTA). It was submitted to the Department and we
received notice that the request for the funding was approved. The $30,000 will be added to our work program
to be matched by SCTA for a project that will also use an additional $30,000
that will be going to Lancaster County’s MPO. It will be used to do a re-evaluation of what
is known as their Transit Development Program, which is a 5-year plan for transit
in both areas and also looking at a demand for inter county services.
Piper stated that our paperwork has been submitted through the Department and
we are waiting for the agreements. The
funds are available through FFY 2018.
UPDATE ON RATS
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PROCESS/LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY PLAN
Mr. Golembiewski stated that, based on some of the public
input we received at the Certification Review, we are going to take what was a
staff update of the Public Participation Plan and turn it into a more formal
outreach approach. Two public meeting
were held. One was on February 21, 2017 at the Agricultural Center and the
other meeting was held at BARTA on the following Tuesday. There were a lot of social services agencies
at the BARTA meeting.
Mr. Golembiewski stated that there has been an online survey
available since February that received some press coverage. He stated that 65% of the people who
answered the survey stated they do not
know how transportation planning is accomplished in Berks County. Outreach to the public through PennDOT
Connects will help.
Mr. Golembiewski stated we should work more closely with a
local television station that does a Spanish broadcast as well. Radio came out as a source that we should use
more, which includes WEEU, and a Latino based station in Reading. Translating documents into Spanish came out
in the Certification Review. We have the
documents but they are not in an executive summary format. We will work on formatting, translating them
and making them available.
Mr. Golembiewski stated that we have been working with
community partners in the interim.
Abilities in Motion (AIM) has representatives here. He met with their Consumer Action Group in
January. He will be doing a television
show with them on April 2lst. They are
having their constituents complete the same survey in paper format at their office. They are translating it with their Latino
constituents and Mr. Golembiewski will pick them up on Monday. Mr. Golembiewski commended AIM for all of
Mr. Golembiewski stated that, based on what was heard at the
two public meetings and comments, we have a group of individuals who are
willing to work with us as updates are made to the current documents. Changes will be reviewed and give us
feedback. The ultimate goal is to come
back to the Technical Committee in May with draft documents for a
recommendation to go out for a formal public comment period in May and June
with adoption this July.
Boyer stated that the month of April brings Earth Day and a number of other events. The month of May brings Bike Month. We have ongoing conversations with our
community partners, including Penske Shocks and Reading Health System and
others, about bringing the Bike to Work Week ride back to the City of Reading
and West Reading Borough. It is an hour
ride beginning at 7:00 AM. Food will be
provided by Reading Health System. Mr.
Boyer said that Dump the Pump Month begins in June.
Boyer stated that the SRTP’s 100th board meeting was supposed to be
held on Wednesday, but was canceled due to inclement weather. The 100th
meeting of that organization will now be held in May.
Boyer stated that in April 2017, we start the CMAQ Performance Measuring
process. A third party was hired to talk
to people in the data base to get feedback on Commuter Services regarding
whether or not their commute change was affected and how para-transit is doing,
Boyer stated that the Annual Report will be given out next month. He stated that community engagement is
something we help each other with. He
also spoke to the action group with Abilities in Motion. Commuter Services is willing to speak with
any active community group.
ON MAJOR PROJECTS
Rebert gave an update on the Major Projects. (See
Rudderow asked if the shift in alignment regarding the Rts. 222/73 Genesis
Drive Roundabout is because of utilities or storm
water. Chairman Rebert thinks the shift
is because the property owner wants out and their house is up for sale. Being that the house can be bought now, the
design was shifted to the south and the burden was taken off of the
others. Mr. Rudderow also asked about
the empty lot across the road on the corner.
Chairman Rebert said that they will try to purchase it. Mr. Rudderow asked if it will affect the next
two houses down as well. Chairman Rebert
said yes. There is some family relation
and are thinking they might not want to live there. Mr. Swan asked if the let date for the
project is still being held to September 27, 2018. Chairman Rebert said as of now, yes.
Reed asked if the RACC bridge will be impacted by the SR 422-29M Reconstruction
project. Mr. Piper said yes. The most likely scenario is that the bridge
will probably go. She asked if this was
certain. Mr. Piper said maybe. The game plan is to look at relocating the Thun
Trail from that structure to the Bingaman Street Bridge and incorporating a
full trail connection there and running the Thun Trail up the Reading side of
the Schuylkill River to RACC. The issue
that comes into play is there are a lot of other connections to the community
that are there such as the Wyomissing Trail coming down and making a connection
to the Thun Trail. How do you handle
bicyclists and pedestrians at both the Penn Street and Lancaster Avenue
interchanges? Mr. Piper stated that
there is a lot of room for the community to get involved with the Department
regarding this project. These
interchanges are really important in terms of regional movements of traffic and
local movements for citizens of the city in terms of being able to travel back
and forth across the river and links to their communities. We need to look at
the ability to make connections through that area. He feels there is still room for improvement
on the bicycle/pedestrian issues in the PE plans. Ms. Reed stated that, as the trails become
more prominent, there is more interest than there had been years ago. She stated that West Reading is concerned about
making sure the connections stay as well.
Many of their people use the connections to travel into the City of
Reading and vice versa. Mr. Slifko asked
if this is an issue that needs to be resolved at the time of the Penn Street
Bridge upgrade or the time of the West Shore Bypass upgrade. Mr. Piper stated that the Penn Street Bridge
project contains provisions for both sidewalks and for a future bike trail. The sidewalks will be separated from the
roadway by a crash barrier. There is a
five foot shoulder in each direction available by use for bicycles. It cannot be designated as a bike lane now
because there are no bike lanes to connect to it on either side. Right now, it serves as a five foot
shoulder. If a bike lane is developed in
the future, it can be designed to safely accommodate that plan. The larger issue needs to be resolved as soon
as possible in the Preliminary Design phase of the West Shore Bypass
said that planning and scheduling projects and moving money around is very
important. Being fiscally responsible is also important. Is it not the goal of this committee to be
looking at major projects and getting them done, getting bridges fixed, and
getting roads rebuilt, etc? Major
projects are at the bottom of the list.
We tend to run through the list at the end of the meeting. The Department determines what projects are
on the list. What is the order of
project priority? Mr. Piper stated that
the projects are listed in numerical order by the State Route number. He stated that the criteria of a project
getting on the list is that it is about $6 million or more and located on a
major route. Mr. Swan said this list warrants
more than just a few minutes. He looked
at the list of projects from the past few years. He thinks major problems and major slips
should be discussed and explained so word can be put out to the public. Some of the projects are slipping by months and
not even mentioned at the meetings.
Chairman Rebert said some of the issues have been mentioned at the
meetings. Mr. Swan stated that plan scheduling is a dark art. They should be listed based on priority. Would it be possible to look at this list
earlier in the meeting? He also said
that, once a project is let, there is nothing listed regarding construction
start/construction end dates. Mr.
Rudderow concurs that this point should be moved up on the agenda. This is a valid point. We do have a fuller agenda and as the meeting
drifts on, we lose board members. Mr.
Swan stated this is suggested so the board can become more informed and not to
point fingers at the Department. The
public does ask questions and this is one way the board gets to put out
information and gets the public up to speed regarding projects they are hearing
about. Chairman Rebert stated that he
has no problem moving this issue up on the agenda. Mr. Swan also would like to see the list
prioritized with the status of each project as well and for the projects be
reaffirmed at each meeting. Mr.
Rudderow agreed with these comments.
Piper stated that on March 1st, permission was given for early paving for the
Buttonwood Street Bridge, subject to favorable weather. Even though there was inclement weather, the
project is still scheduled to complete paving and the bridge to be opened
mid-April. Included in this will be the
restoration of the original traffic patterns in West Reading Borough and taking
out the temporary signals in the city and borough, put the lane markings back
in and also readjust the signal timing on Penn Avenue. Related to Buttonwood Street itself, West
Reading Borough has a contract to repave a portion of Buttonwood Street that
extends from the western end of the bridge up to the traffic circle. The two contractors are trying to coordinate
Piper stated that the Penn Street Bridge construction is under way and will
continue until late 2019. Mr. Swan
asked, with the major projects that are in construction now, will they be put
on a list? Mr. Piper said he would work
on it. Mr. Swan said that once a
project is let, it tends to disappear off of our radar. Mr. Ritzman stated that there is a website
where you can pull up any county and see what construction is going on. Mr. Swan suggested drilling the list down to
the top 10 projects and having the original let, original construction start
and original construction end, where we are now and the reason for any projects
Piper stated there is work being done on the north side of the Penn Street
Bridge that involved utility relocation and is anticipated to go on until
May. That is when the next phase of construction
will begin which is when the detour goes into effect, the ramp is closed from the
westbound West Shore Bypass onto the bridge and when the traffic lanes on the
bridge get narrowed down to two lanes
out of the city and one lane into the city.
It will stay in this configuration for the balance of the project with
the exception of right at the very end there will be wrap-up work that will
require single lanes in each direction for a while.
private partnerships (ReadingBridges.net), which includes the County of Berks, Greater
Reading Chamber of Commerce and others in the business community, and the municipalities.
Money was provided by the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic
Partnership. New mapping is available
showing the detours. The Managing
Director of the City agreed to insert the flyer in the city water bills. There will be a joint venture with Commuter
Services that includes a billboard located on the left side for traffic traveling
from Lancaster Avenue towards the Penn Street Bridge. Commuter Services has negotiated a lease for
that billboard for the month of May stating that the Penn Street ramp is
closing but downtown Reading is not. The
webpage information is also listed.
Landis stated that on April 11, 2017, there will be meetings at the Doubletree
Hotel for business owners to go over all the information/transportation options
for detours due to construction of Penn Street Bridge. The ReadingBridges.net group
already met with West Reading to go over this information. Ms. Reed stated that the downtown merchants
particularly in the 300-400 blocks of Penn Street are worried about this. Mr. Piper stated that signs were specifically
added directing traffic to the Santander Arena and other signs directing
travelers to the downtown Reading Business District.
Kilmer stated that the SCTA Annual Report is in the packet and can be read at your leisure.
Mr. Kilmer made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Price seconded the motion and the meeting
was adjourned at 3:37 PM.
/s/Alan D. Piper_______
Alan D. Piper