(HARRISBURG) – State Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) pushed Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian for answers on plans to toll the I-79 bridge near Bridgeville, Allegheny County.
“Last year I asked which comes first, the toll or the new bridge. The answer was the toll, in order to start raising funds for the bridge,” Senator Robinson said during the Senate budget hearing.
“Will the money generated by the toll be used only for the bridges that are going to be replaced, and not for any other projects in PennDOT’s general fund?” Robinson continued.
In response to Robinson’s questions, PennDOT’s Alternative Funding Program Director, Kenneth McClain, explained a hierarchy of ways those funds will be spent. McClain said that hierarchy includes annual availability payments to the developer, toll-related administrative and processing costs, payments to a strategic reserve account with an initial cost of $475 million, and a post-tolling assessment before any excess revenue is committed to the region in which the tolls are generated.
“I am still curious as to why these bridges were chosen when the Department can replace other bridges without having to toll them. Why this bridge? That is the question I’m constantly asked by my constituents.”
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.
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