Lawmakers unhappy about tolls reminded of law they passed

Lawmakers unhappy about tolls reminded of law they passed
Cashless toll booths were supposed to modernize and streamline the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania state lawmakers unhappy the state is considering imposing tolls on nine major bridges were warned about that prospect when they passed legislation in 2012 delegating approval to appointees of the governor and top lawmakers, they were told Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, reminded colleagues of that vote at the end of a long Appropriations Committee hearing during which more than a half dozen committee members questioned Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian about the potential bridge tolls.

Content Continues Below

“It turns out it’s difficult to fund transportation,” Carroll told colleagues during the hearing.

The Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board, created by a 2012 law, in November voted for the very first time to approve toll projects. The “major bridge” program allows the Department of Transportation to toll bridges to fund improvements.

PennDOT last week named nine bridges that it said it is considering tolling to pay for the reconstruction.

Tolls would be between $1 and $2, probably both ways, raise about $2.2 billion and last from the start of construction in 2023 for three or four years until construction is finished, Gramian told the Appropriations Committee.

Tolling would be electronic and collected through E-ZPass or license-plate billing, PennDOT said. The money collected on a bridge would go to its construction, maintenance and operation, PennDOT has said.

RAW: PennDOT Bridge Initiative briefing