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Old 02-14-2018, 06:12 AM
 
Location: Washington County, PA
4,091 posts, read 4,050,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cremebrulee View Post
yes, we do have challenges due to climate and geology, but that's minor. What about Maine, Conn., and all the other northern states that have the same problems.

The sink holes are also from all the mining they did way back when. I just had a service man come to my home and when he and I started talking, he was so angry, about the pot hole that literally ripped off his wheel, not tire, but his entire wheel....he called and reported it and the man he spoke with got very arrogant and tried to use excuses with him. And that was the 2nd time he had to repair his truck from pot holes. The pot holes are becoming more and more, b/c our roads are so bad.

Our roads don't need overlay, they need to be completely dug up, and re-stoned, graded, hightened, concreted and then have blacktop put over them.

The life span of black top is what, 2 - 4 years, concrete, 4 - 7 years? Now take into account tractor trailors and tri-axels traveling those roads with heavy loads. And btw, I travel down Allentown Road every single day and you wouldn't believe the overloaded Tri-axels getting away with heavy loads.

They needed to replace the bridges all along the TPK, but in doing so, the back roads are still in disarray....
Plus TPK road repair gets seen by many doesn't it?

Did you ever take notice to how long it takes them to replace these so called small bridges.

Drive up to Rt. 80 and Rt. 380 and see the bridges we repaired up there many years ago, in one entire summer season?

They could most certainly do a better job, with all the money they've been taxing on gasoline. People complain about gas prices, and they don't seem to understand, it isn't the gas companies, it's our politicians constantly putting more taxes on our gasoline for bridge and road repair.
Bituminous Pavement = 5-10 years
Superpave Bituminous Pavement = 10-20 years
PCC Pavement = 30-50 years

With your estimate, I don't believe you ever worked construction.
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Old 02-14-2018, 06:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speagles84 View Post
Bituminous Pavement = 5-10 years
Superpave Bituminous Pavement = 10-20 years
PCC Pavement = 30-50 years

With your estimate, I don't believe you ever worked construction.
well, sorry, hate to disappoint you, but I did....and you may be right, not sure....it depends on climate, if it was simply an overlay or complete reconstruction of the road, including redoing the stone grades...and rolling them....how heavily the road is traveled....I know I-78 is having some problems...

I worked 3 sections of I-78, Hellertown, Foglesville, and Easton sections....with James D. Morrissey Construction Co. James D. Morrissey had a plant right off of Rt. 33 before the Wind Gap Exit, he also set up temporary plants to mix concrete when we did Rt. 80 and Rt. 380. And that is where we used the Gomaco Machine....quit impressive.

I helped clear brush and trees from I-78, it was all woods and worked one complete winter all the way thru.

Before that worked for Herbert Impt, out of Philly.

So, I'm not here to prove that I worked Construction...I've posted this thread, so that People in PA start questioning our PA politicians and why our roads are so bad.

I know that they have started to repair and re-structure bridges, but compared to the work that we need done, it's simply cosmetic, for now. As I've said, some roads are so bad, they need to be rebuilt completely from stone grade up. Now, as you say, you have a longer life span, if that work is completed.

Just to use asphalt say in a driveway, with no existing conditions, like tractor trailers, tri-axels with full loads, yes, the life span would certainly be longer, and if you use the proper stone grade with the proper stone, heavily rolled.

Soil stabilization would be as much as 6 inches of crushed aggregate base may be required for some subgrade conditions.

Subgrade and aggregate base need thorough compaction (rolling) to provide a solid foundation for your new driveway.

Once this is stable, paving with asphalt follows. In many cases a 4-inch thickness may be adequate, but 5 or even 6 inches of full-depth asphalt will assure you of a stronger, it all depends on the materials used and how much.

As an option, some contractors use 6 to 8 inches of compacted aggregate, or gravel, as a base for 3 inches of asphalt pavement.

the same goes for concrete installation....and the concrete is tested for compaction, meaning, upon instruction from the State Inspector, we would take concrete from that certain area, and fill tubes/cylinders up, on three intervals, compacting each interval with a rod meaning, each stage I had a tool/rod with which I would compact each level of concrete to a count of 25 times...topping it off by smoothing off the top of cylinders. They would be marked, covered with wet burlap, and plastic to cure. In a few days they would be uncovered and taken off for testing. If the cylinder compaction tests were completed perfectly, there wasn't a problem, if they did not pass, then the whole section had to be removed and resurfaced. I was at the time a certified concrete tech.

Last edited by cremebrulee; 02-14-2018 at 07:08 AM..
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:17 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
2,196 posts, read 1,217,787 times
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cremebrulee

Congrats on making history and being the first woman laborer in your union. And the fact you have worked directly in this industry certainly is going to offer certain insights and perspectives which should be applauded.


These are the facts. The Gas Tax is great, and it is pumping more money than ever into our roads, bridges and rails. (even bikes too).


There are larger states, and there are states that have more highways than Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rural populations in the nation, and a very expansive road and highway network that serves these areas.

Pennsylvania has ALOT of bridges. ALOT. And they are old. And crumbling.


Pennsylvania transportation budget was underfunded for DECADES. This means there is a LARGE pipeline of projects that have been waiting to be built or repaired, before newer projects take precedence throughout the state.

Act 89 in just about all regards, was less about raising TONS of NEW money to increase and add NEW projects, it was that our transportation budget for decades was SEVERELY underfunded, and Act 89, simply brought our transportation budget, to a level where old priority projects can finally be funneled through.


For example in Harrisburg they are finally proceeding with the I - 83 multi phase, $1B+ dollar Highway expansion, adding 2 additional lanes each direction, to make an 8 way modern highway system around Greater Harrisburg's busiest roadway stretch.

A project that is about 20 years overdue!! lol


Act 89 was great. It is one of THE MOST IMPRESSIVE things I have seen a bi - partisan Harrisburg achieve in DECADES.



PennDOT needs to be reDesigned from the GROUND UP. It has internal flaws in regards to project quality and management, outdated design flaws often constructing projects that are dated or aesthetically unpleasing, and has an outdated philosophy on materials used for many projects. The biggest challenge that faces Pennsylvania is that it is entirely too provincial, to the point that even our state transportation agency; PENNDOT, has a provincial way of completing and prioritizing projects, and in many ways are not cohesive in highway design, etc.


The QUALITY of roads in Pennsylvania is less the problem of the budget moving forward, and really should be focused on improving the way PennDot operates.
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:35 AM
 
27,070 posts, read 26,475,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rowhomecity View Post
cremebrulee

Congrats on making history and being the first woman laborer in your union. And the fact you have worked directly in this industry certainly is going to offer certain insights and perspectives which should be applauded.


These are the facts. The Gas Tax is great, and it is pumping more money than ever into our roads, bridges and rails. (even bikes too).


There are larger states, and there are states that have more highways than Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rural populations in the nation, and a very expansive road and highway network that serves these areas.

Pennsylvania has ALOT of bridges. ALOT. And they are old. And crumbling.


Pennsylvania transportation budget was underfunded for DECADES. This means there is a LARGE pipeline of projects that have been waiting to be built or repaired, before newer projects take precedence throughout the state.

Act 89 in just about all regards, was less about raising TONS of NEW money to increase and add NEW projects, it was that our transportation budget for decades was SEVERELY underfunded, and Act 89, simply brought our transportation budget, to a level where old priority projects can finally be funneled through.


For example in Harrisburg they are finally proceeding with the I - 83 multi phase, $1B+ dollar Highway expansion, adding 2 additional lanes each direction, to make an 8 way modern highway system around Greater Harrisburg's busiest roadway stretch.

A project that is about 20 years overdue!! lol


Act 89 was great. It is one of THE MOST IMPRESSIVE things I have seen a bi - partisan Harrisburg achieve in DECADES.



PennDOT needs to be reDesigned from the GROUND UP. It has internal flaws in regards to project quality and management, outdated design flaws often constructing projects that are dated or aesthetically unpleasing, and has an outdated philosophy on materials used for many projects. The biggest challenge that faces Pennsylvania is that it is entirely too provincial, to the point that even our state transportation agency; PENNDOT, has a provincial way of completing and prioritizing projects, and in many ways are not cohesive in highway design, etc.


The QUALITY of roads in Pennsylvania is less the problem of the budget moving forward, and really should be focused on improving the way PennDot operates.

thanks very much, yes, it was actually an honor to have such interesting life experiences....and very helpful in many ways....believe you me. Especially when I was single....with a son.

I started out with a very small construction company in Philly and was told the reason why I was hired, was because of my background working with horses. (all the grunt work) but, it was something I wanted to do. I was fortunate, as most of the men treated me kindly and with the utmost respect. But, I didn't act tough, what I did was, worked right along side of them and wouldn't allow them to carry me. And I hated flagging, so the other option was to work.

I am now still friends with our supervisor, who back than was the best boss I've ever had. He was highly respected by everyone. Very confident, didn't yell and scream, and when you made a mistake, he'd say, "you've got to learn somehow, bet you won't make that mistake again".

I agree with you and trust in your observations of overhauling PENNDOT, however, I still feel our politicians need overhauling as well. Lets face it, when your new to office, you don't know what monies are allocated where, and you surely don't know a damn thing about construction or the materials used.

But I can almost bet, that all that money that was previously allocated to bridges and highway repair, was never allocated....and let me tell you, your talking an awful lot of money.

Consider one gas station, on one particular day, and how many cars go in to gas up. Now consider all the gas stations in the state of PA and all those driving back and forth to work everyday, gassing up. That is a heck of a lot of money over 25- 30 years, isn't it?

Just consider one day....????????

Our rural roads are the pits....

What is the interstate going thru Harrisburg, on your way up from MD? Gosh that road is awful....it's the stretch you have to slow down on, and if you don't, it sounds like you have a flat tire.

I don't remember the names of interstates and roads any longer....sorry. I have a bad memory problem now, some things I remember like yesterday, others not so much.

Thanks

I must say, though, the quality of roads here in PA are bad....and need to be addressed, so I kind of disagree with your last sentence, and I think every resident of PA needs to demand they use our money as it was allocated....so....?
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:39 AM
 
27,070 posts, read 26,475,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtab4994 View Post
Several bridges in Stroudsburg and vicinity have been replaced over the last few years. That's where I live. The money must have come from somewhere.


Heck, it's pothole season everywhere.


And don't look now but a storm's a-brewin' down in Washington, where a certain person wants trillions of dollars spent on infrastructure of all kinds. Presumably PA would get some of that money and could put it toward fixing roads.
Please keep in mind, PA is so much larger than several bridges in Stroudsburg, but I am happy to hear they've done much needed repairs. I used to live in Kunkletown. And yes, the money did come from PA, and the potholes, you cannot predict or avoid, depends on the area, what water is running underneath the roads, how cold the temps drop to, b/c when they drop everything swells and expands, of course...
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:45 AM
 
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One thing that angers me beyond any sense is when I still see companies and local communities tar and chip roads....what a complete waste of tax payers money...not to mention, that tar gets all over the car. I saw they just did a road in Telford, on my travels thru and it makes me livid beyond words.

why do they still do that, what an insult to intellect and to the people in the community?

What a waste!!!! You'd be wiser to take that money and do an overlay, but to tar and chip or whatever they call that cluster you know what, now a days, is absolutely a waste. All you've done is create a job for some company, and all those stones flush down the storm drains or lay in the gutters....that is a disgusting thing to do to your community.
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Old 02-14-2018, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
8,460 posts, read 4,156,587 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cremebrulee View Post
I do appreciate this and your effort, however, as I said, for years now, they've imposed taxes on gasoline, and not fixed our roads...they have though built new highways which we did need....but I'm sorry, the monies allocated, over these last 25 - 30 years, has not been seen.

Ask yourself this question, if other states have good smooth roads, why are ours always so shabby?

I mean to tell you, I had a state inspector back then, tell me in our conversation how bad our roads are. He actually predicted a bridge collapse.
Before I go any further, let me say that I appreciate hearing about road construction from someone who's actually done it, and I applaud your pioneering work.

I guess I'd ask the same question you would: Why are Pennsylvania highways so bad? The state's had that reputation for years, always bringing up the rear of the (I think now-defunct) annual survey of truck drivers conducted by Overdrive magazine. I think Arkansas finally surpassed it as the state with the nation's worst highways in the survey's final two years.

The possible answers I can think of would hinge on cost, engineering, methods and techniques, and materials. All of those are intertwined in some fashion, though.

Does the state buy inferior materials - lower quality concrete, cheaper asphalt?

Do the road crews prepare and apply the materials the right way?

Are the specs for things like the roadbed and subsurface adequate to ensure durability?

Is the state penny-wise and pound-foolish when it awards contracts?

And so on.

I'm just a lay person, so I don't think I could come up with good answers to those questions.

I will, however, say that it seems to me that work done since the early 2000s seems to me better in quality than that done before. The Schuylkill Expressway rebuild seems to have held up well, for instance.

And the Turnpike has long been in better shape than any of the state's other highways.
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Old 02-15-2018, 12:12 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
273 posts, read 205,754 times
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A disclaimer first: I’m not a civil engineer, and I’ve not worked in the road construction field.

That stated, I’ve long had an interest in roads and highways—their history, how they’re engineered and constructed, and the impact they have on our society. And I’ve spent many hours over the years in university libraries reading engineering manuals, studying the history of PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and other state and federal agencies, and following current highway events and trends as they unfold.

I won’t claim that PennDOT or the PTC are perfect, efficient organizations run by incorruptible public servants. I don’t deny that they are in need of serious reform.

But there’s a decided disconnect between popular rhetoric and reality.

First, let’s look at the perennial criticism of pavement quality—and we’ll skip the unscientific trucker polls. The Federal Highway Administration reports objective stats on pavement quality based on what’s known as the International Roughness Index (IRI). These numbers take into account all roads—Interstates and local roads, urban and rural. Let’s look at the Pennsylvania’s scores from 2015 and those of our neighbors:

Pennsylvania
Very Good....Good.......Acceptable.....Poor......Very Poor
5.5%...........24.1%.....47.6%...........13%.....9 .8%

New York
Very Good....Good.......Acceptable.....Poor......Very Poor
3.3%...........24.2%.....44.2%...........12.5%..12 .8%

New Jersey
Very Good....Good.......Acceptable.....Poor......Very Poor
5.5%...........10.7%.....35.1%...........19.9%..28 .8%

Ohio
Very Good....Good.......Acceptable.....Poor......Very Poor
9.5%...........38.7%.....38.3%...........7.9%....5 .6%

Maryland
Very Good....Good.......Acceptable.....Poor......Very Poor
13.4%.........28.5%.....33.9%...........10.4%...13 .9%

By objective standards, Pennsylvania is somewhere in the middle of the neighborhood, so to speak—close to New York, considerably better than New Jersey, and behind Ohio and Maryland to varying degrees. But I see nothing in these numbers that absolutely puts Pennsylvania to shame—certainly not to the extent of detractors’ rather dire rhetoric.

And that’s before we start considering some of the state’s unique challenges.

Dramatically increased state responsibility
In many other states, the state DOT is responsible for Interstates and most if not all US routes and numbered state highways. Roads of lower significance are typically maintained by counties or municipalities. In Pennsylvania, however, the concept of “county roads” is virtually alien. Literally tens of thousands of miles of rural roads—many of them irrelevant to regional or statewide traffic—are maintained by the Commonwealth. Municipalities do maintain many borough streets and township roads, but even then, the bridges on those roads are frequently constructed and maintained by PennDOT.

Ever heard of famous Mill Street in Coalport? Of course you haven’t, because it isn’t famous, and Coalport is dying borough in Clearfield County with a population that has sunk to an estimated 502 in recent years. And Mill Street is an insignificant two-lane side street that barely sees more than 500 cars a day. And yet it’s a state road, and it costs PennDOT nearly as much to maintain Mill Street per-mile as it does similar two-lane side streets in Montgomery County that may see an average of 15,000 vehicles daily. And considering that PennDOT’s revenue is derived from fuel taxes, we could estimate that the Montgomery County two-laner is generating thirty times as much revenue for the state.

A geographically dispersed, dying rural population
Suburbanization was mentioned upthread, and it’s certainly an insidious force that has consumed a sizable portion of transportation funding over several decades. But another factor that hits Pennsylvania with particular strength is the road mileage needed to support the state’s dying rural population. The Commonwealth is covered in ailing Coalports, Cokeburgs, and Cassviles—tiny hamlets where people once mined coal, made steel, or farmed the land.

And though the populace in these settlements is shrinking, traffic counts dwindling, and tax revenues falling, PennDOT must still maintain numerous roads to and through them. And not to the lax “driver beware” standards of the ’40s when these towns were still perhaps viable. They’re maintained to the follow-the-manual-to-the-letter-or-we’ll-sue-you standards of today: Modern guard rails are installed, dangerous curves realigned, high performance retroreflectors added, and center line rumble strips milled—regardless of how economically hopeless the community may be.

The “Pioneer penalty”
Pennsylvania has also payed a considerable penalty over time for its role as a pioneer in developing modern freeways.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike was constructed without using either state or federal funds and has operated for nearly 80 years based on toll revenue alone. This may come as a surprise to the people who predictably show up in the comments section of any article about the Turnpike to rant about their “tax money being wasted”.

Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (the forerunner of PennDOT) also began building freeways in earnest soon after the end of World War II. Freeways such as the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), I-70, I-78, and I-83 were built mostly or entirely before passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. This legislation, which essentially launched the Interstate System, also initiated a 90/10 funding scheme where the Federal government picked up 90% of the tab for Interstate construction. Prior to that, the funding scheme was 50/50, and only on a limited number of approved projects.

Pennsylvania’s early freeways also served as something of real-world laboratory for highway construction standards. It was at least in part because of observing shortcomings in Pennsylvania’s early superhighway designs that Federal standards-makers were able to identify that wider median widths, wider rights-of-way, and gentler interchange geometry were necessary. These higher specifications were eventually codified in later construction standards.

As a result, other states were able to stand idly by as Pennsylvania spent large sums of its own funds to build freeways, watch as Pennsylvania’s design standards were tested in real-world conditions, and finally—after the Federal government offered to pay 90% of construction costs—build freeways that conformed to newer design standards and at a much lower out-of-pocket cost. And if that wasn’t enough, Pennsylvania was saddled with the cost of retrofitting its own highways to meet higher standards—installing median guardrails and twin tubes at tunnels (on the Turnpike).

A plate with more on it than just roads
When the Pennsylvania Department of Highways became the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in 1970, the change was more than window dressing. Talk about terrible timing: Two decades of ambitious roadbuilding had generated a massive pile of debt, and while the national and state economies deteriorated, the newly formed PennDOT was pressed into funding financially ailing mass transit systems that had previously been private.

And today, funding of mass transit remains a significant part of PennDOT’s mission—not only in the two large cities where farebox recovery ratios are respectable, but also in smaller and declining cities like Johnstown and Butler, where state-supplied subsidies amount to millions of dollars annually and revenue generated from paying customers is inconsequential.

PennDOT dollars also subsidize the fares of Amtrak routes in the state, and the state has committed millions of dollars of transportation funding to rebuilding many train stations after decades of underinvestment.

Transportation funds are also used to support the state police—roughly three quarters of a billion dollars every year. Ostensibly, this is a “transportation-related cost” (i.e. patrolling the highways to ensure motorist safety). But the reality is that about half of the astronomical number of municipalities in Pennsylvania have no police department whatsoever and rely on the state police for protection. Rural populations in many other states would rely on county police, but again, the concept is largely alien to Pennsylvania. This is another instance where the costs of supporting rural and exurban populations have been externalized.

Bottom line
Undeniably, PennDOT and the PTC have faced and continue to face a unique set of challenges. And again, they are certainly imperfect organizations as various audits have exposed. Both are in need of meaningful reform and improvement. And for the sake of the long term viability of my home state’s transportation infrastructure, I most certainly want to see those reforms.

But still, the blind and oft-repeated charge that these two agencies are throughly inept just doesn’t hold water, based on my observations. And I think the hyperbole doesn’t help foster a productive dialogue about improving transportation in the Commonwealth

Last edited by briantroutman; 02-15-2018 at 01:02 AM..
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:40 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
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That was a tour de force, briantroutman.

I had known, and our construction-worker friend had alluded to this, that Pennsylvania was among the states with the highest total miles of state-maintained highway in the country - I think it was the fourth-largest.

And it wasn't just highways in those fading rural boroughs either. I recall noting (with some bemusement) when I moved here in 1983 the blue-and-gold signs you found on most Philadelphia thoroughfares that bore a keystone on them and the legend

"This is a STATE HIGHWAY - For repairs call 225-1415"*

I understand the need for those signs: had I lived anywhere else and run into a pothole on a street like that, I would have called the city transportation department, not the state one, for most states did not maintain the (non-freeway) state highways that ran through their incorporated municipalities.

But that brings us to another point about Pennsylvania (and New Jersey, and New York, and five of the six New England states): there's no such thing as unincorporated territory within its borders. Had this state followed the rules of the states that do have unincorporated territory, its state highway network would be nearly nonexistent - and our local property taxes, which pay for road maintenance in most municipalities, much higher.

Your point about PennDOT's support of mass transit statewide is well taken. That makes it a truly multimodal transportation department, and that should be a point of pride for us Pennsylvanians. I know of several state transportation departments (my native Missouri's is one) that to this day function mainly as they did when they were merely state highway departments, with mass transit an afterthought at best. But it should also serve as a shot across the bow of the rural folk who complained about the effort to pay for the state's transportation program by tolling I-80 too. SEPTA may carry two of every three mass transit users in the Commonwealth, but in terms of state dollars spent per rider, the agencies that serve them, such as my favorite poster child for the class, the Area Transportation Authority (of North Central Pennsylvania) up along the state's nearly-wild northern border, get even more support from the state. We have 37 mass transit agencies statewide, by the way. That's a pretty sizable number.

(There may have been legitimate reasons to oppose that effort, and the state's stubborn persistence in the face of clear Federal Highway Administration policy concerning the "demonstration" Interstate tolling projects showed off the side of Harrisburg that earns it its less-than-stellar reputation among many in this Commonwealth. But "tolling I-80 to pay for SEPTA" wasn't one of them, IMO.)

Having driven now on a decent and probably representative sample of Pennsylvania's highways, I'd say that part of the perception problem stems from the fact that the state's freeways see large volumes of traffic almost everywhere in the state, and our neighbors - especially Maryland but also New Jersey - appear to devote a greater share of their time and effort to maintaining their freeways than their primary and secondary highways. I've noted the secondary state routes here that are engineered to what I'd call Interstate standards, and even the many more that aren't tend to be in at least pretty good condition. (I certainly haven't seen a marked state highway here as bad as Mass. 8A between the Vermont border and North Adams was in 1976. You could barely travel at 10 mph on that severely rutted, pothole-ridden, apparently ungraded road, yet it had state route markers on it.)

IOW, the roads most out-of-state motorists use aren't in as good condition as their counterparts in the states that surround this one, but the other ones are quite likely in better condition.

*Those signs are all but gone now - a faded one survives on Broad Street (PA 611) souhbound just south of 66th Avenue - but if you look on Google Maps, you should find that many state secondary highways in Philadelphia are marked with their route numbers, which you will find on no signs anywhere - Philadelphia is the only one of the state's 67 counties where PennDOT doesn't put up those segment markers you find at secondary highway junctions. The one nearest me, Chew Avenue, is State Route 4004. (It moves onto Olney Avenue east of the point where the two streets meet at the west edge of the La Salle campus.)
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:50 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
8,460 posts, read 4,156,587 times
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A coda on state transportation departments:

Virginia, another state whose highways enjoy stellar reputations for quality, actually has two state transportation departments. The Virginia Department of Transportation actually is just the Virginia Department of Highways. Non-road transport is the province of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
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