Energy - May 10, 2013

Long-term impact of Harrisburg tanker explosion unknown, costs high

Early Thursday morning a fuel tanker truck flipped and exploded on the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound route 22/322.  The accident closed the bridges that carry 22 over I-81 and also closed I-81 in both directions for most of the day on Thursday.  Eventually most of the access points were reopened but I-81 in both directions remains closed between exits 70 and 59.  Traffic in the region has increased making commutes much longer than usual and now major repairs are necessary before the I-81 can reopen.  Initial reports note that the repairs could take two months but may run longer.  The damage is still being evaluated and long-term impacts on travel in that area are still unknown.  The damage is estimated at $10 million and the deck where the accident happened will need to be completely removed.

The crash is still being investigated.  The driver of the truck escaped before the explosion and was treated for minor injuries.  No other vehicles or injuries were involved. 


Vanity plate costs may increase with proposed transportation legislation

The pending transportation legislation in the state Senate includes a provision that will increase the cost of a vanity license plate.  Currently vanity plates cost $20; it’s one of the lowest vanity plate fees in the nation and has never been increased.  In other states the cost of a vanity plate varies from an annual fee plus and initial fee to upwards of over $120.  Sen. Rafferty’s proposed transportation bill would increase Pennsylvania’s vanity plate fee to $76.  First introduced in 1964, there are currently 285,532 vanity plates in use in PA.  PennDOT has seen a 50% increase in the use of vanity plates over the last five years.  Additional fees that the bill will raised are passenger vehicle registration, cost of a driver’s license, cost of a learner’s permit, issuance of a vehicle title, certified copies of records, and an added fee on a traffic violation.  While those fees may increase the bill also provides for a two-year vehicle registration and a six-year driver’s license.  The bill is expected raise $2.5 billion in new revenue for various transportation costs.