(HARRISBURG) – Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37) today pushed Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian for answers on plans to toll nine bridges, including the I-79 bridge near Bridgeville, Allegheny County.
“The amount of the money that will be collected from these tolls is $2.2 billion,” Senator Robinson said during the Senate budget hearing. “Do I have your word that those tolls will be dismantled at the end of the contract and this is not a permanent tax?”
In response to Robinson’s questions, Gramian could not provide a timeline for how long the tolls would remain on the bridges. She did commit to Robinson that the tolls would not be permanent.
“The tolls will go away after the life of the agreement goes away,” Gramian said.
Robinson also asked for the report on the traffic impacts of other roads that will see increased traffic as people seek to avoid the tolls.
“Where I live in Bridgeville is already overwhelmed with traffic,” Robinson said. “I would love to see that report.”
Gramian said a diversion study would be done and be made available.
Robinson also is a prime sponsor of a bill to put the brakes on the tolling plans. Senate Bill 382 reforms the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute, and voids the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative:
- Increases transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandating PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
- Incorporates public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting; and
- Creates checks and balances on an obscure P3 Board by clarifying the P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution approving the P3 project with a user fee.
CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel