HARRISBURG – Legislation halting the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) from imposing new tolls on nine interstate bridges throughout the state was passed today by the Senate, according to Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37), co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Upon learning of Gov.Wolf’s plan to toll several bridges across the Commonwealth, including the I-79 bridge in Bridgeville, I was determined to do everything in my power to assist in crafting this important legislation,” said Robinson. “Demanding another tax from hardworking Pennsylvanians and their communities when they are already struggling with staggering inflation is indefensible, and I will continue to fight on their behalf by being their voice in Harrisburg.”
Senate Bill 382 reforms the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and voids PennDOT’s plan. It also 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 resolution within 24 hours. Additionally, the bill incorporates public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 board’s voting meeting. The bill reaffirms a Commonwealth Court decision that invalidated the authority PennDOT improperly assumed to enact tolling and will prevent future administrations from appealing the ruling.
If implemented, the bridge tolling initiative would have cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year – a de facto tax that was moved through the process without legislative input or approval.
PennDOT claims the tolling of the interstate bridges is designed to raise revenue to address the state’s growing backlog of major bridge replacement and rehabilitation needs. However, Pennsylvania already has the funding and sources for the projects. Pennsylvania is receiving $13 billion over the next five years for highways and bridges through the federal infrastructure bill.
Robinson has been a vocal opponent of the interstate bridge tolling plan and published an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette detailing his frustration and insight.
“This legislation also provides more transparency and maintains checks and balances, which is absolutely something PennDOT lacks,” said Robinson. “It has received bipartisan support and praise from local community leaders. I remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement on alternatives to tolling our residents, because now is not the time to solicit them for more money, especially when we have the needed infrastructure funds.”
The bill halts PennDOT’s tolling of the following bridges:
- I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement Project in Berks County.
- I-79 Widening, Bridges and Bridgeville Interchange Reconfiguration in Allegheny County.
- I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges in Clarion County.
- I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges in Luzerne County.
- I-80 North Fork Bridges Project in Jefferson County.
- I-80 Over Lehigh River Bridge Project in Luzerne and Carbon counties.
- I-81 Susquehanna Project in Susquehanna County.
- I-83 South Bridge Project in Dauphin County.
- I-95 Girard Point Improvement Bridge Project in Philadelphia County.
Senate Bill 382 now heads to Gov. Wolf’s desk.
CONTACT: Elizabeth Weitzel