U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Blair, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, put out a news release Wednesday trumpeting the inability of the Federal Aviation Administration to support claims that the looming sequester cuts will cause 90-minute flight delays:
During a Congressional hearing today, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, when asked for data to support this claim, responded, “I can’t tell you with precision that it would be 90 minutes every day.” When Members raised concerns about the Administration’s announcement on delays, despite the lack of precise data or a final plan, Huerta responded, “I think what we’re saying is that these are illustrative of the impacts we would expect to see.”
During the hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation, Members of the panel expressed frustration with the FAA’s continued lack of data to support the Administration’s predictions of furloughs for nearly all of the agency’s 47,000 employees.
“For months, this committee has been asking the FAA for data about their sequester plans. For months, this committee has received nothing in response,” said Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).
“I find it troubling that the FAA and the Administration are still figuring out how to make these cuts but continue to raise the alarm about furloughs and increased delays,” Mr. Shuster said.
It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration is exaggerating the impact of the sequester to try to force Hill Republicans to agree to an alternative. If serious air travel delays do occur, Mr. Shuster has placed himself squarely in the firing line.
Meanwhile, Paul Nussbaum of The Philadelphia Inquirer is spreading no sequester gloom-and-doom:
“Motorists and public transit users have little to fear from impending federal budget cuts,” he says in an article posted today.
“Most of the federal money for highways and mass transit operations comes from the Highway Trust Fund, which is exempt from the looming sequester, the mechanism that could require $85 billion in federal spending cuts this year.”
PennDOT will close the ramp from northbound Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard to Bigelow Boulevard from 10 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Friday for work on an overhead bridge. Traffic will be detoured via the Centre Avenue-Consol Energy Center exit.
The right lane on the outbound Parkway North will be closed at the Levi Bird Duff Bridge in Ross from 8 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Friday because of work on the bridge, Allegheny County announced this morning. The bridge is between Exit 5 at Perrysville and Exit 7 at West View. The bridge will close to vehicular traffic on Monday for a long-term rehabilitation project but will remain open to pedestrians. This restriction comes a few days after a county official told me there would be no significant parkway restrictions during the work.
Inbound Route 28 will be restricted to single-lane traffic from the 40th Street Bridge to East Ohio Street for the next two weekends and on weeknights through March, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced. The restrictions will be in place from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday and during the same hours March 8 to 11 and on weeknights as the major construction project continues.
A $5.6 million bridge replacement on Curry Hollow Road in Pleasant Hills will resume Friday. At 7 a.m., traffic will be reduced to a single 10-foot-wide lane in both directions between Route 51 and Keeport Drive. The restriction will continue into mid-November as work continues on the bridge over railroad tracks west of Arbor Lane.
Warrendale Bayne Road will be reduced to one lane in both directions between the northbound I-79 off-ramp and Harmony Road in Marshall starting at 9 a.m. Monday and continuing around the clock through mid-August as a $3.7 million road reconstruction project resumes.
Police will “pace” or slow down traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Butler Valley and Allegheny Valley for 20-minute periods on Tuesday and Thursday as work continues to remove a Route 910 bridge in Indiana Township. The Tuesday pace will be between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. eastbound; Thursday’s will be 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. westbound. Troopers will restrict traffic to 20 mph to 25 mph during the paces.
Inspection of bridges and signs on the Parkway West will cause lane closures from 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday on the outbound side between the Fort Pitt Tunnels and Banksville Road and between Green Tree and Carnegie. On Sunday, inbound lane closures are possible between Banksville and the tunnels from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and between Carnegie and Green Tree from 7:30 a.m. to noon.
Schedules for approximately 35 Port Authority bus routes will be adjusted effective Sunday, March 17. Port Authority adjusts schedules four times per year. Details and links to new schedules are posted at www.portauthority.org under “Service Changes.” Paper schedules will be available soon. Interestingly, no adjustments are planned on rail routes, which still operate on the same timetables that existed before 11 stops were eliminated last June.
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