Session No. 1E

Broadband Expansion Across Pennsylvania

Broadband expansion is the second highest priority in 2021 for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, with a focus on developing data to drive expansion, creating partnerships across levels of government and with the private sector, and updating the state’s definition of broadband. In about half of Pennsylvania’s counties, broadband access is available to at least 91% of residents but no more than 35% of households actually have high-speed access.  This divide is largely due to two factors, lack of internet infrastructure in rural areas of Pennsylvania and relatively high cost that makes the service unaffordable for many residents in our urban centers.  This session will discuss strategies, planning efforts and projects to expand broadband access for all Pennsylvanians. 

Moderator: Jennie McCracken, P.E., PTOE, AECOM

PA Turnpike Fiber Optic Broadband Network

  • Dale Witmer, AICP, Technical Advisor, Michael Baker International

Connectivity Improvement Plan for Western PA

  • Andy Waple, AICP, Director, Transportation Planning
  • Jennifer Lasser, Director of Planning and Development, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

Philadelphia’s Digital Equity Plan

  • Juliet Fink Yates, Digital Inclusion Manager, City of Philadelphia
  • Michael A. Carroll, P.E., Deputy Managing Director, City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability*
  • Emily Yates, Smart City Director, City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology*

*Michael A. Carroll or Emily Yates will join Juliet Fink Yates. Participation will be finalized closer to date.


Dale Witmer is a project manager and technical advisor with Michael Baker International. Over the last 30 years, he has specialized in planning, funding and procuring projects including transportation public-private partnerships, large-scale fiber optic projects, and intelligent transportation systems. He serves as the lead technical advisor for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s fiber operations, maintenance, and commercialization contract with Plenary Broadband Infrastructure, which is a unique service delivery and revenue-generating agreement. Prior to joining Michael Baker five years ago, Witmer was the Deputy Director of the Public-Private Partnership Office at PennDOT.

Andy Waple has 20 years of diverse transportation and community planning experience. He has been employed with SPC since 2015, and in his current role as the Director of Transportation Planning since 2018. Waple oversees a multidisciplinary team of planners and engineers to deliver a multifaceted transportation planning program that serves and supports the 10 county SPC region. Waple serves on the Board of Directors for the Oakland Transportation Management Association, Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities and the Local Government Academy. 

Jennifer Lasser is the Director of Planning and Development with Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC).  SPC is Southwest Pennsylvania’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Local Development District (LDD) and Economic Development District (EDD). Lasser is responsible for assisting with the identification of priority economic development needs of local government, regional communities and stakeholders to foster regional development and building a unified vision towards resiliency. She currently is the regional coordinator for the Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) and manages a team who assist small to medium size businesses SWPA. She has a bachelor's degree in history & pre-law from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and a Masters of Public Administration from University of Central Florida (UCF).

Juliet Fink Yates has been working on addressing digital equity since 2001, when she was managing a small ISP for 10,000 low-income Philadelphians. In 2010, she wrote, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, the broadband stimulus grant that brought $5.4 million to low-income communities to set up computer labs (which became known as KEYSPOTS) in 77 locations. She was a founder of the Technology Learning Collaborative, Philadelphia’s first professional development organization dedicated to digital literacy providers and advocates and was a member of the City of Philadelphia’s Digital Literacy Alliance until she joined the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology in March 2020 as the first Digital Inclusion Manager. In this role she has been working on major initiatives to close the digital divide, including the PHLConnectED program to ensure all preK-12 students have internet access, PHLDonateTech to get devices into the hands of those in need, and a larger Digital Equity Plan for the City of Philadelphia that will be a roadmap to ensure all residents have the internet access, devices, and skills needed for work and life. She has a Master’s in Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education with a focus on technology in education.

As Deputy Managing Director for Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (oTIS), Michael A. Carroll, P.E. is a creative and nationally respected leader with more than 25 years of experience in transportation. In this role, Carroll leads oTIS staff in developing strategies and implementing policies to build a safe and equitable multi-modal system across Philadelphia’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Deputy Carroll coordinates and sets the policy direction for critical functions, including the Streets Department (both Transportation and Sanitation), the Philadelphia Water Department, as well as the newly created Office of Complete Streets. His oversight includes infrastructure systems that are made up of more than 9,500 transit stops, 2,575 miles of street, 320 bridge structures, 450 lanes miles of bike facilities, 1,000 Indego bikes and 100 Indego stations, and 6,500 miles of sewers and water mains. Deputy Carroll also coordinates with internal city departments, external agencies such as SEPTA, PennDOT, Amtrak, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, as well as with policy makers on the local, state, and national levels. Deputy Carroll graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Cornell University and proceeded to earn master’s degrees in Transportation Engineering and Transportation Planning from the University of Berkeley.  

As Smart City Director for the City of Philadelphia, Emily Yates is responsible for managing and leading the implementation of the SmartCityPHL Roadmap that provides guidance on how smart and emerging technology solutions can improve the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors while improving the delivery of City services. Throughout her career, Yates has worked to help cities position themselves as globally competitive by utilizing a systems approach to develop strategies, projects and programs that exist within the intersection of sustainability, technology, and economic development. Most recently, Yates was Deputy Director with Envision Charlotte where she was responsible for leading the development of the Circular Charlotte strategy, which made Charlotte the first city in the US to have a citywide circular economy strategy, in addition to other local programming that created a smarter, more sustainable Charlotte. She has held a variety of positions in Europe and North America, including urban planning positions with both the District of Columbia and the city of Cleveland planning offices. Yates was a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor/Bundeskanzler Fellowship, which funded a year of research focused on German approaches to the implementation of sustainability policy and climate change adaptation in brownfield development. Yates holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University. She is a member of the Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy (ELEEP) Network.

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Dec. 8, 2021

1:00 to 2:15 p.m.



The Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference (TESC) attracts professionals from throughout Pennsylvania, the mid-Atlantic region, and the country. It is an authoritative source of information on pressing issues from some of the foremost experts in transportation today.

Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

201 Transportation Research Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-1891