PennDOT, Partners Tout Improvements, Safety, and Opportunities for Bicycle Use

To mark May 20, 2022 as Bike to Workday in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), rabbittransit and Commuter Services of PA held an event at the Middletown Train Station to highlight improvements and opportunities for cyclists in Pennsylvania.

“PennDOT has taken our Active Transportation Plan and made it a part of everyday business, linking people to their communities by enhancing facilities for biking, walking, and transit,” said Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, Jennie Louwerse. “With our planning and safety resources, PennDOT is focused on making sure that everyone, no matter how they travel, has access to transportation options.”

The department makes available information, graphics, and videos to help riders and pedestrians of all ages travel safely. Further demonstrating commitment to safe travel options, the Wolf Administration recently announced 64 projects to improve transportation alternative options and enhance mobility and accessibility across the state. The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is expanding these Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program investments by providing an additional 43 awards. Another 56 multimodal projects were recently selected for state Multimodal Transportation Fund investments.

“Bike to Work day is a great example of expanded mobility. Providing safe and efficient opportunities is the key to success,” said rabbittransit Executive Director Richard Farr. “When we connect bicycles to other modes of transportation, we help individuals travel further, truly enhancing mobility on our communities. All of our fixed route vehicles have bike racks and bikes ride free!”

The new Middletown Train Station which opened to the public in January exemplifies the coordination of rail, car, bus, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation modes through the planning, design, and construction of a multimodal hub.

“Bike Month is an excellent reminder that having a multimodal approach to our transportation network helps meet the needs of our regional commuters and directly supports our mission of reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality,” said PA Commuter Services Deputy Project Manager Stacy Newcomer.  “The Middletown station and the covered bike racks at this facility are outstanding assets to help commuters travel regionally and ease their decisions to make more sustainable commute choices.”

Learn more about cycling and walking in Pennsylvania at Learn more about rabbittransit and Commuter Services of Pennsylvania on their websites.

Safety Program at Tobyhanna Army Depot

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s Safety and Occupational Health Office (SOHO) is earning rave reviews for its efforts to ensure a healthy workplace for more than 3,700 team members.

The SOHO team successfully led Team Tobyhanna through a sweeping, four-day audit by external Department of Defense (DoD) officials earlier this fall. Representatives from the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Directorate of Safety were on site to evaluate the effectiveness of Tobyhanna’s safety and occupational health program. CECOM personnel noted multiple depot best practices during the visit.

One such best practice was Tobyhanna’s extensive COVID-19 mitigation strategies, especially the COVID-19 Task Force, praised by auditors for its comprehensive methods to keep employees safe during the unprecedented pandemic. The cross-functional group, which meets regularly, is charged with ensuring depot policies are focused on employee safety and in accordance with applicable DoD, federal, state and local public health guidance. Among the Task Force’s accomplishments is the procurement of more than 7,000 face coverings to distribute to personnel and visitors; the installation of ionization systems and self-check temperature stations; and the deep cleaning of nearly 1M square feet of depot property. The Task Force also spearheaded a detailed contact tracing process on-post to prevent the virus’ spread.

Auditors also lauded the depot’s lifting devices inspection program. The SOHO has three full-time equipment inspectors who maintain the program. The trio examine depot equipment such as overhead cranes and pallet jacks for operability and safety to Army and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

“Our mission covers a variety of equipment. Basically, if it lifts or holds weight, we inspect it and make sure it is safe for our depot teammates,” said Michael Lazowski.

Lazowski and his co-workers, Darren Stout and David Huntz, conduct an average of 600 inspections per month for Tobyhanna equipment as well as assets belonging to tenant activities. They also perform physical load tests, inspection of fall protection harnesses and provide support for unforeseen requirements, such as re-inspections of new and repaired equipment.

Stout says depot personnel can help make the program run even more smoothly.

“We have a great working relationship with our customers; however, there are two things they can do to make our process even easier for all involved. First, they can proactively schedule their inspections, which helps us with our demanding schedule; and second, they can self-report in advance when they need a reinspection. Both of these actions are small, but important, ways to help us serve our customers better.”

Lazowski says there is never a dull moment in the life of an equipment inspector.

“This position allows us to experience the many different parts of Tobyhanna’s mission and facilities – and we know what we do matters, which makes it even better.”

Several opportunities for improvement were also identified by CECOM, according to Bilotta.

“During the audit, it was noted that our existing Safety Hazard and Near Miss Reporting process was effective, but could be further improved. In the coming months, our team will be working to streamline this process.”

Reflecting upon another successful audit, Bilotta noted SOHO could not do it alone.

“The workforce does a great job making safety a priority and we attribute our successes to their effort and enthusiasm.”

Tobyhanna’s safety program adheres to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 45001 safety standard, recognized across the world as benchmark for workplace safety. Tobyhanna was the first organization within the Department of Defense to obtain the ISO 45001 accreditation in 2019.

Employee safety is a fundamental part of Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028. The plan aligns with the depot’s four strategic focus areas: Investing in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications; and aims to posture the organization for future success.

External auditors will return to Tobyhanna in January and February for further reviews.

PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania DUI Association Urge Responsible, Designated Driving Ahead of Labor Day Holiday

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and the Pennsylvania DUI Association gathered today with local police agencies and victim’s advocates in the DUI Victims’ Memorial Garden to urge motorists to celebrate responsibly ahead of the Labor Day holiday.

“Crashes involving impaired drivers are entirely preventable,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We are urging motorists to ensure their safety and the safety of others on our roadways by designating a sober driver this Labor Day weekend and every time they drink.”

The event featured victim advocate Kelli Donlen, whose nephew Zachary Gonzalez is memorialized in the DUI Victims’ Memorial Garden. The garden, which was dedicated in October 2003 and is located in front of the Pennsylvania DUI Association’s headquarters in Harrisburg, honors and remembers Pennsylvanians who have been killed in impaired driving crashes. Currently, more than 2,200 people are memorialized in the garden.

According to PennDOT data, in 2020 there were 2,698 crashes resulting in 39 fatalities statewide over the holiday week beginning Friday, September 4 at 6:00 PM and running through Sunday, September 13. Of those numbers, 231 crashes resulting in 12 fatalities were alcohol-related and 104 crashes resulting in three fatalities were drug-related.

Impaired driving enforcement goes beyond checking for alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also work to identify motorists impaired by illegal drugs and prescription medication or some combination of these. Pennsylvania has approximately 225 Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) or specially trained officers who look for impaired drivers and assist in DUI investigations when drug-impaired driving is suspected.

“We honor and remember the lives lost because someone chooses to drive impaired,” said PA DUI Association Executive Director C. Stephen Erni. “Labor Day weekend and every remaining day of the year, the message is clear: Do not drive impaired. Our collective goal is to end the suffering caused by an individual’s choice to drive impaired.”

Over this holiday period, the Pennsylvania State Police and local municipal agencies will conduct impaired driving enforcement details as part of a national impaired driving enforcement and education initiative running through September 6. This effort is funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution of more than $4.7 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for impaired driving enforcement.

During the 2019 Labor Day holiday enforcement period, troopers made 610 DUI arrests and investigated 45 crashes in which alcohol was a factor. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and mitigation efforts that were in place throughout Pennsylvania at the time, statistical information was not collected during the 2020 Labor Day holiday driving period.

“Travelers are reminded this holiday weekend to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive impaired or distracted,” said Captain Robert Wagner, assistant director of the Bureau of Patrol with the Pennsylvania State Police. “Troopers are trained to look for impaired driving behaviors and consistent with our highway safety mission have a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

PennDOT encourages motorists to always plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation. The public can join the conversation on social media by using #BeSafePA and #DriveSober.

To learn more about PennDOT’s efforts to prevent impaired driving or other safety initiatives, visit

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit

For more information on the Pennsylvania DUI Association, visit

The PAcast for today’s statewide Labor Day Impaired Driving media event is now available online at

Governor Wolf Announces Over $15 Million in Green Light-Go Grant Funds to Improve Traffic Safety

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that 50 municipalities will receive over $15.6 million to support traffic signal upgrades, increasing mobility and efficiency across Pennsylvania’s communities through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT’s) “Green Light-Go” program.

“The safety improvements supported by the Green Light-Go program not only help municipalities relieve congestion and traffic flow, they help Pennsylvanians move safely and efficiently,” said Gov​. Wolf. “I’m proud to help our communities improve mobility for Pennsylvanians.”

Green Light-Go grants are provided as reimbursement to municipalities for updates to improve the efficiency and operation of existing traffic signals. Grant funding through the Green Light-Go program may be utilized for a range of operational improvements including, but not limited to light-emitting diode (LED) technology installation, traffic signal retiming, developing special event plans and monitoring traffic signals, as well as upgrading traffic signals to the latest technologies. This is the sixth round of funding disbursed through the Green Light-Go program for municipal traffic signals.

Following is a list of local approved projects:

Lackawanna County

  • City of Scranton – $488,000 for modernization of traffic signals along Cedar Avenue at E. Elm Street and Maple Street including new mast arms, controller cabinets, signal heads and pavement markings.

Luzerne County

  • City of Hazleton – $305,677 for modernization of the Diamond and Vine Street traffic signal.
  • City of Wilkes-Barre – $300,000 for development and implementation of new traffic signal timing plans at 13 intersections.

PA Department of Health Mask Order Reflects Latest CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam announced that the commonwealth’s mask order reflects the announcement made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier today.

On March 16, 2021, the SOH amended the commonwealth’s mask order by adding language directing to the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people allow for no face coverings. That means that today’s CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. Masking requirement will still be in place as otherwise provided under the CDC guidance and for unvaccinated individuals until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

“Today’s guidance from the CDC affects only people who are fully vaccinated” Acting Secretary Beam said. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine that is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can completely lift the masking order.”

The CDC today provided guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Under the guidance, individuals are still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. In addition, all individuals will still need to follow guidance at workplaces and local businesses.

For more information on the CDC guidance,
visit here.

People can find vaccination locations near them using, also known as Vaccine Finder. Individuals also can text their zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible vaccination sites in their area.

The Greater Scranton YMCA Helps Children Learn to be Safe Around Water

As part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water, the Greater Scranton YMCA will provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities in our region.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally, 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of latino children, and 40 percent of Caucasian children have no or low swimming ability.

“Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street,” said Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director, Greater Scranton YMCA. “The Y teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives, it builds confidence.”

The Y believes this is especially true following 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns. In a typical year, the Greater Scranton YMCA teaches 1,500 individuals in their swim programs—this decreased to 617 in 2020. “We know there are children in our community who are now more at risk due to the need to maintain social distancing in 2020 and we want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year. In order to maintain a safe and healthy environment while COVID-19 is still present, the Y is offering smaller class sizes, requiring all staff and volunteers to wear masks and is deploying hydrostatic foggers throughout the building for disinfection of areas and equipment.”

The Y is a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety. The Greater Scranton YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose, including competitive swimming, family swimming, swim lessons, certification courses, the Annual Safe Around Water Campaign, water aerobics, arthritis water exercise and more.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing—skills that last a lifetime.

To learn how to qualify for financial assistance for swim lessons, please contact Ken Bewster at or (570) 828-3112.