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Forest County Commissioner Basil Huffman Receives Prestigious State Award
I am pleased to report that Forest County Commissioner Basil Huffman recently received a prestigious state award during a ceremony in Harrisburg. Huffman was one of only eight government officials and nine communities from across the Commonwealth who received awards honoring their service as part of the 20th Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence during an April 13 ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg.
Basil Huffman has been a true champion for Forest County for nearly 20 years. He has worked tirelessly for the people of county and has played a very active role in a number of regional programs and projects as well. There are a number of projects around the county that came about as a result of Commissioner Huffman’s work, but perhaps his greatest legacy involves the number of lives he has touched through his strong support of programs for local veterans. He truly deserved this well-earned award from the state.
Huffman was nominated for the award by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, which noted his efforts to promote major capital improvement projects including historic courtroom renovations, transportation and bridge projects and working with the state in the process leading to the new State Correctional Institution Forest.
The Association also cited Huffman for his extensive involvement with numerous community organizations and events, as well as his work to support the county’s veterans.
70 mph Speed Limit Expanded to a Total of 997 Miles
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently increased the speed limit to 70 mph on highways across the Commonwealth.
The new speed limit impacted 396 miles of the Turnpike and 400 miles of other highways. Added to the 201 combined miles of roadways already at 70 mph since July 2014, motorists will see the higher speed limit on a total of 997 miles of highways in the Commonwealth.
Turnpike travelers will see the higher speed limit on 90 percent of the entire toll highway, as 493 miles of the 552-mile system are now posted at 70 mph.
Areas of the PA Turnpike now posted at 55 mph will remain at 55 mph, including: work zones; the five tunnels; mainline toll plazas ( “barrier” plazas that stretch across travel lanes, such as Mid County and Delaware River Bridge in the southeast and Gateway and Warrendale in the west); the eastern slope of the Allegheny Mountain; and the seven-mile stretch east of the Bensalem Interchange in Bucks County (this section — now posted at 55 mph due to construction of the I-95/Turnpike link — will remain at 55 mph upon completion of the connections because of a lower design speed).
Other highways that are posted with the new speed limit are:
Act 89, the transportation funding plan adopted in November 2013, permitted the increase to 70 mph once appropriate safety studies were reviewed. PENNDOT and the Turnpike raised the limit in three pilot areas on the Turnpike, Interstate 80 and Interstate 380 in August 2014. The studies did not see a significant increase in speed or spike in crashes in the pilot areas.
Volunteer Fire Company Grant Program Now Open
Volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities with fewer than 10,000 residents and where forest and brush fires are common are urged to apply for matching grants of up to $7,500 for training and equipment purchases directly related to fighting brush and forest fires.
Funds from the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program, administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, performing wildfire prevention and mitigation work, training wildfire fighters, or converting and maintaining federal excess vehicles to be used for fire suppression. DCNR gives priority to requests for projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective clothing.
Grant applications must be submitted by 4 p.m., May 19. Applicants should visit https://www.grants.dcnr.state.pa.us/Dashboard/VFAGrants for more information.
Traffic Deaths Decrease in 2015
Traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania totaled 1,200 in 2015, the second-lowest since record-keeping began in 1928 and five more than the record set in 2014.
PENNDOT data from police reports shows that while the number of highway deaths dropped in many crash types, there were significant decreases in fatalities in crashes involving drivers older than 65, aggressive drivers and crashes at intersections. Deaths in crashes involving drivers 65 years of age and older declined to 279 from 300 in 2014. Fatalities in crashes at intersections decreased from 271 in 2014 to 251 in 2015, while fatalities in crashes involving aggressive drivers decreased from 134 in 2014 to 119 in 2015.
Fatalities increased in some types of crashes, including those involving single-vehicle run-off-the-road crashes and hit-fixed-object crashes. There were 580 fatalities in crashes involving single vehicles that ran off the road, up from 534 in 2014. Also, deaths in crashes where drivers hit fixed objects, such as trees, increased to 459 from 425 in 2014.
PENNDOT has invested approximately $50 million over the last five years for low-cost safety improvements at nearly 4,800 locations. Types of low-cost safety countermeasures include rumble strips, signage, pavement markings and roadway delineators. PENNDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.
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