Welcome to the County of Berks
RATS Coordinating Committee Meeting Minutes-March 16, 2017
READING AREA TRANSPORTATION STUDY
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 CENTER
ATTENDANCE
 
COORDINATING COMMITTEE
Michael Rebert, PennDOT 5-0, Chair *
Jim Ritzman, PennDOT Central Office
Kevin S. Barnhardt, County of Berks
Donna Reed, City of Reading
James Mason, Berks County Planning Commission
Dave Kilmer, SCTA/BARTA

Randall Swan, Reading Regional Airport Authority

Joseph E. Rudderow, III, 2nd Class Townships (Maidencreek Township)

Stephen H. Price, Boroughs (Wernersville)

 
COORDINATING COMMITTEE MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING
Tony Sacco, 1st Class Townships (Cumru Township)
 
*Tie-breaking Vote only
 

OTHERS   

Ray Green, PennDOT Central Office
Kerry Fields, PennDOT 5-0
Shannon Rossman, Berks County Planning Commission
Alan D. Piper, Berks County Planning Commission
Michael Golembiewski, Berks County Planning Commission
Devon Hain, Berks County Planning Commission
Regina Zdradzinski, Berks County Planning Commission
David Berryman, Berks County Planning Commission
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 Borough
Diane Hollenbach, Maidencreek Township
Felix Colon, AIM
Angel Torres, AIM
Liam Migdail-Smith, Reading Eagle
 
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
 
      Chairman 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.
 
3.         BUSINESS FROM THE FLOOR
 
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.  
 
4.         PRESENTATION 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?  
 
 Mr. Ritzman 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: 
1)      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 restaurants. 
 
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 future date. 
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. 
 
5.         REPORT ON 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 vehicle fee. 
 
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.
 
 
6.         REPORT ON FEDERAL CERTIFICATION REVIEW FINAL REPORT
 
           Mr. 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 regulations. 
 
           Mr. 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. 
 
           Recommendations 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. 
 
           Mr. 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. 
 
           Mr. 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.
 
           Mr. 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.
 
           Mr. Rudderow and the rest of the committee thanked the staff for their efforts on the plan and the balance of the planning process. 
 
7.         SINKING SPRING BOROUGH  PROPOSAL FOR SUPPORT OF FASTLANE APPLICATION
 
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 application.   
 
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 congestion issue. 
 
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 problem. 
 
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.
 
           Chairman 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. 
 
           Ms. 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.
 
 
 
 
8.         UPDATE ON 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 no. 
 
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 meeting. 
 
9.         PENNDOT 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.
 
        Administrative 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.

         Mr. 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 about it.
 
         Mr. 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. 
 
10.           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.   
 
11.           UPDATE ON SUPPLEMENTAL UPWP FUNDING REQUEST
 
           Mr. 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.
 
           Mr. 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.
            
12.        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 their help. 
 
         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. 
        
13.        COMMUTER SERVICES UPDATE
                 
         Mr. 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. 
 
         Mr. 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. 
 
         Mr. 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, etc. 
 
         Mr. 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.  
 
14.           PENNDOT UPDATE ON MAJOR PROJECTS
                 
         Chairman Rebert gave an update on the Major Projects.   (See Attachment).  
 
         Mr. 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. 
 
           Ms. 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 project. 
 
         Mr. Swan 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.
 
         Mr. 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 that schedule. 
 
         Mr. 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 that slip.  
 
         Mr. 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.  
 
         The public 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. 
 
         Ms. 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. 
 
15.           OTHER BUSINESS
 
           Mr. Kilmer stated that the SCTA Annual Report is in the packet and can be read at   your leisure.
 
 
 
16.        ADJOURNMENT
 
MOTION:  Mr. Kilmer made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Mr. Price seconded the motion and the meeting was adjourned at 3:37 PM.
 
 
Date:    5/18/17
          
/s/Alan D. Piper_______
Alan D. Piper