Five years after the Federal Highway Administration approved Pennsylvania’s current PA On Track trucking plan, the new “2045 Trucking Plan” has been opened for public comment.
“The plan takes a comprehensive look at freight movement across the state,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Alexis Campbell.
The 80-page draft is open for public comment during a period that began this week and runs through Oct. 5.
After that, PennDOT is awaiting the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of the plan in November.
The plan focuses partly on railways, partly on trucking.
It illustrates the national freight network, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, interstate highways including county routes 70, 79, 80, 99, and 376, and local highways including US Route 422 (specifically between Kittanning and the Indiana county line) and US Route 219 (specifically around the Turnpike in Somerset).
Another map, simply labeled “National Highway System,” includes other famous roads, including other U.S. Routes 422 and 219, as well as U.S. Routes 22, 30, and 119, as well as State Route 28, which runs north of Pittsburgh through Kittanning to Interstate 80.
“As measured by tonnage, the top foreign trade partners among US states for freight originating from Pennsylvania are New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia,” according to the freight movement plan. “The top foreign trade partners among US states for freight destined for Pennsylvania are New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Maryland.”
The draft goes on to say that highway congestion and its impact on trucking productivity continues to be a major challenge for the industry.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) projects long-term (2018-2045) growth in Pennsylvania trucking activity of 51 percent in tonnage, 58 percent in ton-miles, and 80 percent in value,” the project states. “These numbers indicate continued strong growth in truck traffic on Pennsylvania’s highway system, with growth in domestic consumption of raw materials and finished products slightly outpacing growth in manufacturing and distribution to out-of-state destinations.”
The project also provides a breakdown by commodity, saying that “by 2045, coal is expected to decline among the 10 largest trucked commodities in Pennsylvania. The strongest growth is forecast for non-metallic minerals/mineral products and base metals.’
Also shown are trucking bottlenecks, including Interstates 376 and 79 in the Pittsburgh area and Interstate 80 in parts of Jefferson, Clearfield and Center counties.
Other statistics in the project include truck parking spaces, including spaces along the turnpike, Highway 22 in Westmoreland, southern Indiana and Cambria, and along Interstate 80 along most of its route.
“A number of trucking bottlenecks identified in Pennsylvania are being addressed as part of ongoing projects under the 12-year program,” the project states.
In addition, “the lack of adequate parking for trucks in much of the country is a serious operational problem for trucking, as well as a safety problem for truckers and travelers in general.”
For railroads, “Pennsylvania’s freight railroad ranks among the top in the U.S. in several metrics, including the number of railroad companies operating in the state, track mileage, tonnage, carloads, employment and total compensation for railroad employees and retirees. .”
The draft also says there are three general categories established by the Federal Railroad Administration, including Class I railroads covering 47 percent of the route miles in the state, three regional or Class II railroads covering 14 percent of the route miles, and 57 short railways. railroads, in turn, are local, covering 29 percent of route miles, and terminal/interchange railroads, covering 10 percent of route miles.
In tonnage, according to the draft plan until 2045:
• Major commodities transported by rail to Pennsylvania destinations (excluding domestic deliveries within Pennsylvania) include coal, crude oil, plastics/rubber, newsprint, and base metals. When measured by value, the top commodities destined for Pennsylvania include plastics/rubber, base metal products, base metals, machinery, and newsprint/paper.
• Major commodities transported by rail from Pennsylvania origins to destinations outside the Keystone State include coal, crude oil, gravel, plastics/rubber, and base metals.
“When measured by value,” the project continues, “top commodities originating in Pennsylvania include crude oil, plastics/rubber, coal, base metal products, and other agricultural products. Major commodities transported by rail in Pennsylvania include (by tonnage) coal, gravel, plastics/rubber, base metal products, and fuel oil. By value, top commodities include base metals, plastics/rubber, coal, textiles/leather and pharmaceuticals.’
PennDOT says the goals and objectives of the 2045 freight plan will align with eight key goals of the state’s rail plan:
• Bring the system of priority rail transport into working condition and maintain it.
• Development of an integrated railway system.
• Support the future needs of residents and businesses.
• Improving the quality of life in Pennsylvania.
• Ensuring personal and infrastructure security.
• Support energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and sustainability.
• Determine stable and predictable funding.
• Building public support for rail system services and assets.
Water transport and airports are also mentioned in the plan.
“Pennsylvania is home to more than 650 aviation facilities, including 123 licensed public use airports, 230 private use airports and 282 private use heliports,” the plan states. “Several small airports serving rural areas, including Altoona, Bradford, DuBois, Franklin, Johnstown and Lancaster, are classified as Essential Air Service airports with federally subsidized connections to major airports.”
Other passenger air services go to Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe. The Indiana County Airport – Jimmy Stewart and the Punxsutton Municipal Airport will be listed as “general aviation” facilities.
The plan examines current and future trucking trends and supports a project-specific investment plan to secure federal transportation funding for projects that improve freight mobility.
“The freight plan underscores our continued commitment to freight planning across the state,” said PennDOT Secretary Yasmin Gramian. “Through our planning efforts, we want to make sure that the Department is in the right position not only to meet the demands of trucking, but also to facilitate their transportation.”
The plan is available on the PennDOT website penndot.pa.gov website, and an electronic comment form is available there.