MINUTES OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON MAY
4, 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
Glisson for Dave Kilmer, SCTA/BARTA
COMMITTEE MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING
Sroka, Reading Regional Airport
E. Johnson, City of Reading
Vottero, PennDOT District 5-0
Kerry Fields, PennDOT 5-0
Gene Porochniak, PennDOT Central
Jennifer Elsken, FHWA
Regina Zdradzinski, Berks
County Planning Commission
David Berryman, Berks County
Andrea Bernet, Rep.
Karen Shuey, Reading Eagle
CALL TO ORDER
Kufro called the meeting to order at 1:32 p.m.
APPROVAL OF TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MARCH 2, 2017
Kufro asked if there were and questions or comments to the March 2, 2017
Technical Committee Meeting minutes.
Mr. Green made a motion to approve the March
2, 2017 Technical Committee minutes. Mr.
Golembiewski seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
There was no business from the
SUPPLEMENTAL UPWP FUNDING REQUEST
Piper stated that the agreements are moving forward for approval of the funding
which is $30,000 each from both RATS and Lancaster MPO to go to South Central
Transit Authority (SCTA) for their Transit Development Plan .
Piper stated that the agreement was processed with the Department and was
approved. We are finalizing the
agreement between Berks County and the Transit Authority. Everything is proceeding on track.
REQUESTED AMENDMENTS/MODIFICATIONS TO FFY 2017-2020 TIP
gave an update on Amendments/Modifications to FFY 2017-2020 Highway TIP from February
23, 2017 through April 27, 2017.
Amendments: There were no Amendments.
Administrative Actions: There were 23
Administrative Actions. Two of these
involved the addition of all-weather pavement markings and high friction
surface treatments as safety projects at various locations within the
County. The third project involved
breaking out four bridges from the RATS Bridge Preservation #5 item and
applying funding for their construction in FFY 2017. These bridges are: SR 222 over SR 3422 (Penn Avenue); SR 724
over Wyomissing Creek; SR 2034 (Oley Turnpike Road) over Antietam Creek; and SR
2039 (E. Neversink Road) over SR 422. The remaining 20 reallocated funds within
MODIFICATIONS TO FFY 2017-2020 TRANSIT TIP
Mr. Glisson stated that the FTA has
apportioned 7 or 8 months-worth of the 5307 Funds. That was done because they only had budget
authority through the end of April 2017. SCTA wants to advance its application
to the FTA based on the funding that is available. The projects that are proposed are for FFY
2017. A number of those projects are not
programmed on the current TIP. The
amendments for the first four projects are proposing to be added to the TIP
using 5307 funds. They are planning to
be advanced. These include: Purchase of
5 share-ride vehicles to replace existing vehicles that have exceeded their
useful life; facility upgrades at various locations; bus shelter replacements;
and telephone system upgrades.
Glisson stated that Mr. Piper referred to the additional planning funds BARTA
is receiving using UPWP funding. These
will also be supplemented with 5307 Funds.
The same thing is happening in the Lancaster MPO as well. The combined TDP update will be looking at
transit service in both counties.
Glisson stated that, when the TIP was updated, it was fiscally constrained to
$3.6 million in federal funds. These
changes here maintain that fiscal constraint for the federal funds in FY
2017. That is why there is an
Administrative Action reducing the Preventative Maintenance Fund in order to
maintain that fiscal constraint. That
$3.6 million is likely to change once SCTA would receive final allocation of
funds for this region once the budget is passed this week and the FTA goes
through their process.
Glisson stated that, once the final allocation of funds are received, there
will be some Administrative Actions to be adjusted to match the dollars because
he does not foresee any other projects being added to the TIP. Mr. Piper asked, other than the fact that we
are looking at this today, if he had any other reason to expedite this faster
than going to the Coordinating Committee to approve that in two weeks. Mr. Glisson said no because any application
will be filed before the end of May in that regard. Mr. Piper asked, if these Administrative
Actions are approved, does he go back and use the old ESTIP process for transit
actions. Mr. Green said yes and Central
Office will approve the modification.
Mr. Piper made a motion to forward a recommendation to the Coordinating
Committee to endorse the Transit Amendments as presented. Mr. Green seconded the motion and it passed
RECOMMENDATION ON DRAFT RATS PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PLAN/LIMITED ENGLISH
Golembiewski stated that these two plans were adopted in March 2014. In that time, the population continues to
change. We had issues come up. There were some recommendations that were
made at the Federal Certification Review in October 2016 regarding how we
further interact with the Latino/Spanish speaking population, how we get the
word out about what we do and how we get information back.
Golembiewski stated that there were three particular recommendations, which are
addressed in the draft Public Participation Plan. One of those was including a notification on all
of our documents in Spanish that translated documents are available upon
request. We say in the current plan that
we are going to do that, but have not implemented that yet. Another recommendation was including that
same notice on our website. That is a
simple recommendation to be implemented.
The third recommendation, which we will be looking at further, was
trying to discern what are considered vital documents that RATS issues and
having those vital documents either directly translated and available or having
an executive summary created, translated and made available.
Golembiewski stated that the last Public Participation Survey we did was in
2008. We conducted another full online
and paper survey. There were 152 online
responses; none were received on paper.
Three major questions were asked.
1) Do you know about transportation planning in Berks County? Who does
it, how is it done? Who pays for it? He
said that approximately 70% of respondents said no to all three questions. Fewer said they don’t know who pays for
it. He assumed that everyone thinks
their tax dollars pay for it, which is correct.
2) How can we get information to you? We looked at everything from
documents in libraries, advertisements in the newspapers versus a block ad in
the newspaper, using the Merchandiser, Berks Community television, and
municipal newsletters. The responses
were not surprising. Legal
advertisements in the newspaper don’t work, but block ads get more
attention. Everyone would like emails
sent directly to them. There was an
opportunity to sign up for an email list right away. There needs to be a bigger online social
media presence. Instant social media
contact (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and not website contact is what people are
looking for. The Berks County Planning
Commission has a Facebook page, but transportation and RATS related items go
through there and not a RATS specific page.
We will consider setting up a RATS specific online page. 3) How can we get feedback from the
public? Some responses were to either
send out a survey/information that we can respond directly to or let us do it
through social media. They want that
instant interaction on their telephones (social media).
stated the updated Census data on language population was reviewed. Approximately 26,000 people speak Spanish who
do not speak English. That group
continues to grow. We need to
incorporate this into our documents on how we get the word to the public.
was the next highest group, which includes under l,000 people. It has been assumed over the past few years
that a concentration of that group lived in the city. Census information shows that they are
scattered through throughout Berks County.
There are no true concentrations.
How do we conduct outreach to that particular language group? They need to be located within the county and
have to figure out what tools can we use to reach out to that particular
Golembiewski stated that there were two public meetings held. One was held at the Agriculture Center and
the other one at BARTA. There were a lot
of social service providers at the meetings talking about the constituencies
that they serve. These are groups who
represent transportation challenged persons like the Berks County Prison
Society. People who do not have access
to a car who are either van pool dependent, transit dependent and who brought
up their issues where these people are trying to get jobs is not exactly
matching up with transit lines, transit schedules, and working with van
pools. It is groups like this that we
need to reach out to more.
MOTION: Mr. Glisson made a recommendation to the
Coordinating Committee to allow staff to take these documents out for a formal
45-day public comment period. Two public
meeting would be scheduled at different times and locations with the goal of
having adoption at the July 2017 Coordinating Committee. Mr. Krall seconded the motion and it passed
REPORT ON MAY
1-2 PLANNING PARTNERS MEETING ISSUES
Mr. Piper stated a Planning Partners
meeting was conducted in Harrisburg on May 1st and 2nd. PennDOT gave a report on the Extreme Weather
Vulnerability Assessment Report, which is a way PennDOT is looking at impacts from
extreme weather on the highway system relating to flooding, etc. Their final report is out and gives a lot of
good mapping and opportunities for both the Department and planners to go in
and take those factors into consideration in moving forward and planning
PennDOT is putting together an MPO/RPO
Guide Book, which will be a resource regarding the role of the Metropolitan Planning
Organization in the planning process. It will explain
how all of the pieces fit together in terms of our transportation planning process
both on the highway and transit side.
Mr. Piper stated that, regarding the Critical
Urban/Critical Rural Freight Connectors, PennDOT is in the process of quality
control on the materials that were sent in to make sure where all of the
segments are located. They have not yet
begun to mull through those. The
interesting part was that PennDOT is allowed to add 282 miles of new rural
connectors and l41 miles of urban connectors statewide. So far, there were requests for 555 miles of
rural connectors and 200 miles of urban connectors. PennDOT must finalize the process they are
going to use to narrow this down. Once a
final criterion is formed, a recommendation will be made and shared with us. We
will be provided an opportunity for review and comment before it gets submitted
to the Federal Highway Administration.
Mr. Piper stated that the Transportation
Alternatives Program (TAP) is now called the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside
of the STP Block Grant Program. It is
still the same program. It covers
projects regarding trails and environmental-type issues that are not the
standard transportation projects. Mr.
Piper stated that advanced notice of the program will go out later this
month. The program will tentatively be
announced in mid-June. Applications will
begin to be accepted on July 10, 2017.
The deadline for the applications will be September 22, 2017. The ultimate goal is to have the projects
reviewed and selected by January 2018 so they can be included into the next
TIP. These projects will be required to
go through a PennDOT Connects process once the projects are recommended.
Mr. Piper stated that there will be more
money statewide invested in the program this time but that will not affect the
dollars that we have allocated to us as an MPO, which is approximately $278,000
per year. Local projects can also
compete for statewide funds.
Mr. Piper stated that, in terms of
overall financial guidance for the development of the next TIP, draft tables
have been put together. The Financial
Guidance Work Group looked to see if there were any options available to revise
the process. The state’s Transportation Performance Report stood out and said
we need to invest more money in the Interstate Highway System (IHS). The only way to invest more money is to take
funding away from other programs across the state. The determination was that the formulas used
to allocate funding will remain unchanged for this TIP update. One exception to that was in the area of CMAQ
funding. There are a number of areas
across the state are eligible for CMAQ funding. They have progressed to the
point that they are in attainment with the air quality standards. While they are technically eligible to
continuing receiving funds, it was accepted that the dollars currently assigned
to those areas that are in attainment will be reallocated to the non-attainment
and maintenance areas. Planning areas
may have those dollars programmed on their current TIP so the CMAQ funding will
stay the same for FY 2019-2020. The reallocation would happen in FY 2021 and
2022. Mr. Piper stated that, looking at
the numbers, we will see a slight increase.
Less than 20% of the CMAQ dollars were allocated to the MPO’s and RPO’s
that are currently in attainment. When
the dollars are reallocated using the same formula that is used now, the money
is primarily going to go to Philadelphia, (DVRPC) and Pittsburgh (SPC). We will receive more money but not that much
more than we do now.
Mr. Piper stated that, within a week or
so, we should have the final allocations for both the highway and bridge
programs and the transit funding, which will be distributed and used as a basis
as we start putting together the update to the TIP and the Long Range
Transportation Plan (LRTP).
Mr. Piper talked about the ROADMAP
Program. He stated that the legislature
will be weaning the State Police off of some of the money they receive from the
Motor License Fund. That will gradually
be reduced by about 4% per year to get from the over $800 million that it is
now to $500 million per year. Over a
10-year period, it is anticipated that will be a $2.1 billion shift. Out of that $2.1 billion, $1 billion will be
allocated to the PennDOT County Maintenance Offices to be used on roads they
are responsible for maintaining. $600
million will be given to the Interstate Highway Program. Technically, there is new money going to the
Interstate Highway Program. Another $500
million will be applied to Capital projects on regional TIP’s across the state.
Mr. Piper stated that another item that
was included as part of the ROADMAP Program is a projected use of match funding
for those counties that have adopted the $5 local use fee as Berks County
has. It is an opportunity to receive up
to an additional $2 million worth of money from the state for use on local
roads and bridges. We need to define
what is eligible for that and how to get those funds since Berks County is
interested in this program. We are
looking forward to seeing an FAQ sheet, which should be coming out soon. We need to match those bonus dollars and see
what rules need to be followed to receive those dollars.
Mr. Porochniak stated that it was made a
point at the meeting that the money coming out from the State Police reduction
will likely be weighted more heavily in the later years of the 10-year program
as opposed to the earlier year. Mr.
Piper said it will start with a 4% reduction and grow from there.
Mr. Glisson asked when the
preliminary/final numbers for the Financial Guidance come out. Mr. Piper stated that they were waiting for
corrections to be made and expects those number to be out within a couple of
Mr. Green asked that, as far as to the
adjustments to the CMAQ funds, what role will that play with SCTA and the
MPO. Sometimes we tend to flex funding
of CMAQ for bus fleets. What are the
impacts there, if any? Mr. Piper stated
that he doesn’t anticipate much of a change.
He would expect to continue to do the same. An emphasis coming out of FHWA at this time
is we look to develop a defined process that uses those dollars and apply them
to eligible projects. We might have to
redefine how we allocate those dollars.
UPDATE ON PENNDOT
Mr. Piper stated that PennDOT Connects
is the new process that incorporates meeting with municipalities ahead of a
project being programmed during the initial phase of projects or one that is
currently in or entering the Preliminary Engineering phase. The purpose of this meeting between the
municipalities, the Department and the MPO staff is to review the scope of work
to see whether or not there are opportunities to incorporate local issues that
are documented in their plans into these projects. It will make sure that PennDOT and the
community understands what the scope of the project is and how that might
impact the community. It will look at
bicycle/pedestrian issues, transit issues, and freight issues in the area. One of these meetings was recently held with
Hamburg Borough regarding the proposed replacement of a bridge on State Street,
which is Old Rt. 22. It helped reinforce
ideas the Department had regarding how they would like to consider constructing
the bridge and letting the community have input into that process and identify
issues relating to when the proper time for that construction might be.
Mr. Piper stated that this was the first
meeting. We are working on filling in the
projects on the current TIP. We will
also be identifying new project and having meetings with those municipalities
before recommendations are made for projects to be included on the 2019
Mr. Piper stated that the Department has
set up a 3-phase training program. The
training from the Department and the MPO’s staff for our region was held last
Friday in King of Prussia. It explained
the importance of the planning process in the overall PennDOT Connects
framework, which will help PennDOT engineers understand the planning side. The second course will be held in June and
will help the planners understand the issues that go along on the engineering
side. The final training will be held in
September and will be putting all of the pieces together of the process how we
should be moving forward. Mr. Piper said
the first session introducing planning went well and he expects the next two
sessions to go just as well. He
understands that the Department will be issuing a training program similar to
the LTAP program that will go out to the municipalities to explain PennDOT
Connects to them. In the end, we will
have better projects and fewer surprises.
Mr. Piper said we need to send the
municipality a flyer describing the program, a copy of the questionnaire and a
brief description of the proposed project so they understand what they are
meeting about and what to consider. It
will be beneficial if we can give them more time up front to prepare for that
meeting. Mr. Krall asked Mr. Piper who
he met with. Mr. Piper said he met with
the Hamburg Borough manager and the head of their road crew for that project. Chairman asked if he met with anyone from
their Planning Commission. Mr. Piper
said no but that is an opportunity going forward. The initial contact is made between the
Department and someone from the municipality.
They have the opportunity to invite whomever they want to attend those
meetings. Chairman Kufro stated that
PennDOT is relying on the MPO to help them figure out who are the right people
to touch base with. Mr. Piper stated he
identified either the borough manager or secretary first, then someone from the
Planning Commission. Public Works is on
the list. The municipalities/boroughs
should know the right people to bring in.
Getting them this information up front should help them know who to
bring. This is not a scheduled public
meeting; just a working meeting to discuss issues. Under the prior process, projects were
included on the LRTP or TIP and then went into Preliminary Engineering (PE). During
PE, a public meeting is set up.
Municipal issues were not necessarily identified until almost all of the
way through the PE phase. It is best to
identify the issues up front so that they are included in the original scope of
work and then develop a good project right away.
Chairman Kufro stated that by having
these meetings early enough, if something is decided outside of the original
scope, and if funding is an issue, it gives us time to help them apply for funds
from other sources. There are more
opportunities to get funding that lines up with our projects.
Mr. Golembiewski stated Deputy Secretary
Ritzman will be presenting the PennDOT Connects concept to County Planning
Directors in State College tomorrow. Mr.
Glisson asked if the MPO had a presentation on this concept. Mr. Piper said that Mr. Ritzman was at the Coordinating
Committee meeting and gave a presentation.
Mr. Glisson mentioned that the Hamburg project is using the PennDOT
Connects model. He asked if the Planning
Commission staff would be the advocates for the issues of walkability, bicycles
and transit. Mr. Piper said that, unless
SCTA has an issue, the MPO would coordinate with SCTA so they do not
necessarily need to attend the meeting.
In that particular case, Mr. Golembiewski looked at the transit routes
and they did not go through that area. We could touch base with SCTA in the future
when we are going to do these things. Mr.
Glisson is talking about walking, bicyclists and transit fitting this
process. Mr. Golembiewski referred to the
PennDOT Questionnaire and put together a checklist of items to consider. If there is a direct impact with SCTA, Mr.
Piper would anticipate either inviting them to a meeting or contacting them
before the meeting.
Chairman Kufro stated that PennDOT
Connects covers many different things.
The big focus is multi-modal, connecting missing links and improving
other things. Mr. Glisson stated that he
wants to make sure transit issues are being considered from this. Mr. Piper will inform him when the meetings
will be held and what the project covers in case SCTA needs to be
Piper stated that this is Bike to Work Month and
the week starting May 15, 2017 is Bike to Work Week. On May l9th, there is an
organized ride to work, which is co-sponsored with Reading Health Systems,
Penske Shock and the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce. It starts in West Reading at the Reading
Hospital, ride into the City of Reading and back out avoiding the Penn Street
Bridge this year. The Buttonwood Street
Bridge will be used instead. Anyone, if
interested, can join the ride. Mr.
Golembiewski state that it is listed on their website that if you are a
commuter and you choose to use a bicycle for commuting in May, you can log your
rides throughout the entire month of May on their website. You may receive
prizes for participating. Mr. Glisson
stated that anyone who puts a bicycle on the bus bike rack anytime during Bike
to Work Week can ride the bus for free.
ON BRIDGE PROJECTS
Chairman Kufro gave an update on the
Bridge projects. (See Attachment).
Piper stated that the SR 1003 Wall Street Bridge Replacement project was let on
April 20, 2017.
Mr. Piper stated
that the Penn Street Bridge is under construction. Beginning this coming weekend, PennDOT will
begin moving to Stage 2 of the construction plan, which involves the closure of
the westbound ramp to the bridge.
Inbound traffic will be restricted to a single lane and those
restrictions will be in place starting next Sunday until October 2019. If you are coming to these meeting, give
yourself time to cross the Penn Street Bridge or consider another route. The official detour route would be the
Bingaman Street Bridge. We needed the Buttonwood Street Bridge completed for
traffic relief. Mr. Golembiewski thanked
PennDOT for paving the eastern part of Washington Street. Mr. Krall stated that the western half of
Washington Street will be starting in a month or two. They are waiting for UGI to finish and will
be back to pave Franklin Street, Washington Street and Walnut Street.
Mr. Piper stated
that the proposed MPO Coordination and Planning Area Reform Rule was discussed
at a prior meeting. As of now, the rule
is dead. It has been officially rejected.
There is a report in the packet from
Congressman Dent regarding this. The
House of Representatives voted to repeal the rule was 417-3.
welcomed our new members, Mr. Gene Porochniak, from PennDOT Central Office and
Ms. Jennifer Elsken, from FHWA to the Committee.
Mr. Piper stated
that we have officially lost our transportation reporter. Mr. Liam Migdail-Smith, from the Reading
Eagle, has moved on to a new job. We
will be receiving a new permanent assignment in the near future.
MOTION: Mr. Golembiewski
made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr.
Glisson seconded the motion and the meeting was adjourned at 2:36 PM.
/s/Alan D. Piper
Alan D. Piper