MINUTES OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON JULY
13, 2017 AT THE BERKS COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION CONFERENCE ROOM ON THE
FOURTEENTH FLOOR OF THE BERKS COUNTY SERVICES CENTER
Kufro PennDOT 5-0, Chair*
Green, PennDOT Central
Alan D. Piper, Berks County Planning Commission
Tim Krall, City of Reading
Golembiewski, Berks County Planning Commission
COMMITTEE MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING
Terry Sroka, Reading Regional Airport
E. Johnson, City of Reading
Kerry Fields, PennDOT 5-0
Gene Porochniak, PennDOT Central
Regina Zdradzinski, Berks
County Planning Commission
David Berryman, Berks County
Devon Hain, Berks County
Zac Kopinetz, Berks County
Planning Commission Intern
Cody Kleffel, Berks County
Planning Commission Intern
Bill Royer for Ryan McKenzie
Craig Lutz for Senator Argall
Gail Landis, GRCEDC
David Mekeel, Reading Eagle
CALL TO ORDER
Kufro called the meeting to order at 1:33 p.m.
APPROVAL OF TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MAY 4, 2017
Kufro asked if there were and questions or comments to the May 4, 2017 Technical
Committee Meeting minutes.
Mr. Green made a motion to approve the March
4, 2017 Technical Committee minutes. Mr. Kilmer seconded the motion and it passed
There was no business from the floor.
REQUESTED AMENDMENTS/MODIFICATIONS TO FFY 2017-2020 TIP
gave an update on Amendments/Modifications to FFY 2017-2020 Highway TIP from April
27, 2017 through July 6, 2017.
Amendments: There were no Amendments.
Administrative Actions: There were 13
Administrative Actions. Two of these
involved the addition of construction funding for the 18th Wonder
and Boyertown Railroad Connectivity Transportation Alternatives Program
projects that were approved using the MPO’s allocation. The third project involved the addition of a
new project to realign the intersection of SR 73 and SR 1005 (Maidencreek Road)
in Maidencreek Township. The remaining
10 actions reallocated funds within existing projects.
Mr. Piper stated that the Boyertown TAP project
originally came in at the beginning of the year and was more than $200,000 over
budget. The applicant was asked to
rescope the project. The project was
resubmitted within budget.
RECOMMENDATION ON RATS PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PLAN/LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY
Golembiewski stated that the formal 45-Day Public Comment Period ended
yesterday. It began Memorial Day weekend
and there was a notice in the Reading Eagle.
Staff sent out over 250 electronic notifications to those who were
involved in this update. No comments
were received from the public. No one
attended either of the public meetings, which were held on June 27, 2017 at
BARTA and June 28, 2017 at the Berks County Agricultural Center.
stated that one of the changes that will happen from going through this process
is figuring out what is considered to be our vital documents and having those
documents or a summary translated into Spanish and made available. Also, a notification will be put on our
documents that translations are available upon request. The County of Berks has contracted with a
firm that does language interpretations and language translations. It was a service we said we would provide but
never had available. It was never
pursued because staff never had a request.
The service is now available and done through the Berks County Planning
Commission and the County’s contracting process.
Golembiewski stated that one of the issues that came out during the initial set
of meetings in February is identifying human service agencies. Those who work with transportation challenged
individuals including people being released from prison. They need to find a job but do not have
transportation to work. We updated the
mailing list to include agencies like that who work with a number of the groups
that we need to look at.
Golembiewski said that the “Appendix A” handout will be included in the back of
both documents. Everything that has gone
into updating these documents was listed.
Appendix A.l includes the contact lists regarding this process. Appendix A.2 explains what went into the
formulation of the two documents (initial public release, copies of newspaper
articles, WFMZ articles, power point presentations given at the two meetings,
sign-in sheets, discussing comments made at those meetings, copies of online
and paper surveys).
Golembiewski stated that surveys were actually available from January 2017
through yesterday. A total of 165
responses were received. Three responses
were received yesterday. The Berks
County Planning Commission put out a survey regarding the beginning of our
County Comprehensive Plan process. Some
of those people answered this survey instead of the County Comprehensive Plan
survey. A summary of the responses is
shown in the Appendix.
Golembiewski stated that Appendix A.3 lists the actual language groups that
reside in Berks County as derived from the Census American Community
Survey. Besides English, Spanish is the
number one language group; Vietnamese is the third highest listed; and other
Western Germanic language is listed next.
Spanish is the language that we must translate as far as having these
documents ready. We need to find
representatives in the community for the Vietnamese to find out how to reach
out to that group. There is not one
concentrated area in Berks County where they live; they are scattered around
Golembiewski stated that Appendix A.4 lists everything that went into the
45-day public comment period.
Descriptions of actions that were taken, a copy of public notice
advertised in the Reading Eagle newspaper along with the Spanish version that
was sent out, how it was placed on our website in English and Spanish, copies
of the surveys in English and Spanish, newspaper articles that were done by the
Reading Eagle, opening statement prepared to open each meeting, and public
meeting surveys that were available at each meeting.
Krall asked what the reason that no one attended these public meeting. Mr. Golembiewski said he hopes that, given
the large amount of coverage in the beginning of the process, people were able to
include their input, saw that this process was being done and didn’t feel the
need to attend another meeting. Mr.
Green asked if Mr. Golembiewski thinks the federal government will buy that
reason. Mr. Golembiewski preferred to not speculate
on that. He said it would be nice if
they did. Mr. Krall said if the federal
government sees the same thing happening around the state, they might question
it. He is sure it is going on in other
MPO’s around the state.
Mr. Golembiewski stated that staff reached out
to the Latino community in different ways.
There is a local monthly magazine and he spoke to the publisher. She gave ideas of people to reach out
to. The meeting was held at a local
Latino restaurant, which is run by the former President of the Latino Chamber
of Commerce. Mr. Golembiewski had spoken
to her as well. One of the issues
discussed would actually apply to the PennDOT Connects process during project
specific public input opportunities. When regional, county-wide, and long range
projects are talked about, people of all language groups are not interested.
They want to know about projects that are in their back yards, are happening now
and will affect them directly.
Golembiewski stated the first four questions on the survey were about
transportation planning in Berks County.
The results showed that 65% of the people do not know who does it, do
not know how it happens or how it is done.
Most of the people know how it is paid for. Other questions included what would be a good
way to get information to the public and good ways to get information back to
us. There needs to be a greater emphasis
put on a social media presence with immediate updates. Chairman Kufro stated that Mr. Golembiewski
put forth a great effort and has gone through multiple avenues and did a good
Krall asked if Survey Monkey tells you how many people linked to the survey but
didn’t take the survey or only filled out part of it and then didn’t complete
it. Mr. Golembiewski said he can look at
everyone’s individual answers to see what questions they did or did not
complete. He had the survey set that
every question had to be answered other than a name and email that were
optional. Chairman Kufro stated that
PennDOT Connects will help when you get more involvement from specific
MOTIONS: Mr. Kilmer made a motion to recommend to the
Coordinating Committee that they adopt Appendix A include it in both the Public
Participation Plan and the Limited English Proficiency Plan. Mr. Krall seconded the motion and it passed
MOTION: Mr. Green made a motion to recommend to
the Coordinating Committee that they adopt both the Public Participation Plan
and the Limited English Proficiency Plan and make them final. Mr. Piper seconded the motion and it passed
UPDATE ON US
422 WEST SHORE BYPASS RECONSTRUCTION BYPASS
Piper gave an update on the US 422 West Shore Bypass Reconstruction. This project will extend from Rt. 12 to east
of I-176. The project will be in
Preliminary Engineering for several years.
Last year, the Department put together a web page for the project (www.
422westshorebypass.com). It gives: an
overview of the project; a detailed plan of the draft proposal; documents the purpose
and needs of the project; looks at the
different interchange areas. The web
page also contains an animated 3-D fly through showing the proposed
project would consist of widening the West Shore Bypass to three lanes in each
direction and rebuilding all of the interchanges and associated bridges.
Changes would be made at the North Wyomissing
Interchange. It would look the same as
it is now except ramps would be modified to make U-turns legally. Both of the overhead railroad bridges will
need to be reconstructed. The Penn
Street Interchange is proposed to have what is referred to as a divergent
diamond interchange. Traffic lanes would
be flipped as they go through the interchange.
All of the turning movements are left-turn movements, instead of having
movements across traffic. Chairman Kufro
stated that this alignment produces a better traffic flow. The proposal for the Lancaster Avenue
Interchange will have the interchange split in half and has a portion of the
intersection lined up with Rt. 10 heading to and from the west. The traffic going to and from the Exeter area
would get off at new ramps at Rt. 10, come down Rt. 10 into the City of Reading
via Lancaster Avenue and the Bingaman Street Bridge. The 1-176 Interchange basically has the same
configuration but it is slightly relocated to allow for construction for both
river bridges on either side of the interchange.
project also involves the complete reconstruction of the Bingaman Street
Bridge. It would look to relocate the
Schuylkill River Trail across that bridge and take the trail up the Reading
side of the river where it would meet up with the existing trail at RACC.
Piper presented the 3-D digital flythrough of the project to the board.
Krall asked how long it would take to get this project completed. Mr. Piper said the time frame to complete
this $650 million project depends on how it is phased and funded.
Piper stated that this project is in the early preliminary stages and there are
still many issues that need to be resolved.
There was one working group meeting held at the end of May with the
Department, their consultants and members of the community regarding bicycle
and pedestrian movements through the Penn Street and the Lancaster Avenue
Interchange areas. Proposals have been
developed to address some of these issues of maintaining connectivity. A follow-up meeting will be held with them on
August 1, 2017. After that, there will
be a public meeting scheduled on August 15, 2017 at Alvernia University. Further discussions will be held regarding
how to phase this project and how to fund it.
Piper stated that, additionally, the County of Berks, working through its Department
of Emergency Services, has put together a West Shore Bypass Task Force that is
meeting with the police departments and emergency service providers in the area
to look at procedures they can use to respond better to incident management now
and during construction. Projects are
being done to update cameras and the dynamic message system signs. There is also a proposal for doing a freeway
service patrol on the highways.
Coordinating with the municipalities regarding incident management will
go a long way. The Department has
assigned a designated person to help with this.
Piper stated that the areas that have jurisdiction over the bypass included the
City of Reading, Wyomissing Borough, West Reading Borough, Cumru Township, and
Exeter Township. It gets complicated in
an area between the Penn Avenue Interchange and the Lancaster Avenue
Interchange where it could cover the City of Reading, West Reading Borough or
Cumru Township within a very short distance.
Emergency vehicles would get dispatched depending on where an accident
from the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation (GRCEDC),
stated that they will be looking closer at the bicycle and pedestrian issues at
In Mr. Boyer’s absence, Mr. Piper gave
the update on Commuter Services. He said
that Earth Day was held in April with 352 commuters logged in that took 71,000
miles off the roads. Bike Month was held
in May and 64 bicyclists logged in which took 7,600 miles off the roads.
UPDATE ON TAP
PROGRAM SCHEDULE AND REVIEW/RECOMMENDATION OF PROPOSED FUNDING POLICY
Piper stated that the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) does not exist
anymore. It is now called the
Transportation Alternatives - Set Aside Program (TA-SA). It is the same program but with a different
name. We will continue in the same way
and piggyback on the Department’s application cycle and allow all applications
to be submitted to one spot through PennDOT and come back to be available for MPO
consideration with local dollars or be available through the state-wide
funding. There is approximately $556,000
available locally to cover a two-year period.
The state anticipates having a maximum of $55 million to fund projects
for the same time period.
Mr. Piper stated that the application
period opened on Monday. Today there was
a webinar and all potential applicants were encouraged to participate and review
the changes in the application process.
Applicants that are uncertain as to whether their project meets guidance
can submit a request to PennDOT through August 25, 2017 to ensure that their
project is eligible. The application
period closes on September 22, 2017. The
MPO has from that point until the end of the year to make any recommendations
regarding projects using the locally allocated funding. It is once again anticipated using the
Technical Committee to serve as the committee to review projects and make
recommendations to the Coordinating Committee.
Mr. Piper stated that there are funding
issues that relate to when a project goes over budget and how that would be
handled. We have always allocated all of
the dollars available to projects. The
only reason that we have been able to make considerations on applying
additional funds for project overruns in the past is because of projects that
have been cancelled. He does not foresee
anything changing in that. We are not planning
to hold money in reserve. He did feel,
however, that there should be an approved policy that we follow.
Mr. Piper stated that the current
official PennDOT policy has any costs that are over what is included in an
approved application are the responsibility of the project applicant. It is
proposed that, in instances where a project does have overruns, and only if
there are funds available, we would participate in funding, but we would not
necessarily fully fund the overrun of the project. If we don’t have a policy, we are potentially
inconsistent on how we apply money to some projects and not to others. Having a policy will help us to be consistent.
There are also some cases where, in
order to cover overruns, we are actually borrowing against current or future
dollars to fund past projects. The goal
is to use the dollars for what they are intended and when they were
intended. The intention is not to give
the project applicant more money. We
want people to have more realistic budgets and timetables on what they are submitting.
Mr. Piper stated that the new program
requires that the applicant must meet with the MPO and the Department prior to
submitting their application to review their scope and project from a technical
and budget standpoint so that it is reasonable.
Currently, some municipalities lowball the project’s budget by trying to
match local bidding procedures. Federal
dollars are being used so federal procedures must be used and this drives up
costs that should be accounted for in the application.
Piper asked what PennDOT does when a project comes in over budget.
Chairman Kufro stated that
PennDOT goes through a justification process to make sure nothing is
missed. If they realize the actual bid
is accurate and it reflects something accurate, then they accept it as the best
bid. If there are instances of overage,
the project should be rescoped and resubmitted to PennDOT. Mr. Piper explained some of the sample
projects in the handout showing how some areas would change in terms of our
outlay and what the sponsor would be required to pay in overage. The program budget listed by the state has a
minimum budget of $50,000. That amount
of money is not generally worth going through the federal process.
policy should definitely be a shared burden between the MPO and the project
sponsor. This is to be used as a safety
net, if needed. At the same time, imposing
it will serve as an incentive to develop better projects and better
budgets. Mr. Kilmer asked if application
budgets include a contingency. Mr. Piper
stated that they include a certain contingency.
A lot of them do not include a year of expenditure or construction
inspection costs, which should be built into project estimates.
scenarios were discussed with specific percentages or cash contributions
said it is a great thing that the MPO is trying to assist those that are in
need. Central Office expects the
sponsors to be responsible for paying the overage. This policy only applies to projects using
MPO dollars. If a project is funded out
of a statewide program, the MPO has no obligation to account for overages in
Mr. Krall said he thinks this policy needs
more discussion before sending to the Coordinating Committee. Mr. Piper agreed, stating that it is better
to have a policy that everyone agrees with. Mr. Green stated that we will have to let the
sponsors know that we will not just hand out a check to them if they drop the
ball. Mr. Piper stated that he would
discuss this issue at the Coordinating Committee meeting next week to get
feedback from them prior to our further review at our next meeting.
ON HIGHWAY PROJECTS AND REVIEW OF DRAFT REVISED MAJOR PROJECTS STATUS REPORT
Chairman Kufro gave an update on the
Highway projects. (See Attachment).
Mr. Piper stated that the Technical
Committee tracks all of the projects at various stages of the project
development process. We have filtered
major projects and presented those at the Coordinating Committee in the same
format as the handout. At the request of the Coordinating Committee, they want
to focus on the top 10 projects around Berks County. They wanted it to include
a more detailed report that shows the project limits, that gives an idea of
where each project stands in the various phases, when it will go to
construction and be given an estimated date for completion.
Mr. Piper presented the draft of the top
projects that will be presented to the Coordinating Committee next week. A list of other projects will also be given
to them for consideration for addition to the revised report format.
TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Piper stated that we are continuing with the process and will be going out to
the municipalities for solicitation of projects this summer. He went to the District 5-0 office in July and
met with them regarding bridge projects that the Department would like to add
to the TIP. Ms. Fields also provided a
list of projects from the LRTP to be considered for addition, as well. Mr. Piper reviewed the Congestion Management
Plan to identify other projects for consideration.
Piper stated that this whole process started with the STC survey in early
spring. An STC member and staff are
scheduled to talk at our September meeting and give a presentation.
Green stated that there should be an announcement soon regarding the
distribution of Spike Funds.
Piper reminded the board that the next Technical Committee meeting is scheduled
for August 3, 2017. It may be used to
further discuss the TAP and TIP discussions. The September meeting will be a
joint meeting with the Coordinating Committee on September 21, 2017 at the Reading
MOTION: Mr. Golembiewski
made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr.
Green seconded the motion and the meeting was adjourned at 3:15 PM.
/s/Alan D. Piper
Alan D. Piper