Pa. Turnpike toll hike forcing tractor-trailers into local towns

PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Turnpike toll rates are about to go up again in 2019, and with each rate increase, drivers and commercial truckers are being priced off the toll road and into our local towns. Channel 11's Traffic Anchor Trisha Pittman talked to the state auditor general about this issue.

"Many of the routes they are going to take are not built for these heavy trucks," said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. "They are causing a big problem all over Pennsylvania."

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Pennsylvania's auditor general is looking into the Turnpike spending once again. The Turnpike is about to issue its 11th straight increase. Rates are expected to increase every year until 2044. That's something the auditor general said won't work.

"It's simply going to be a financial disaster for the state of Pennsylvania," DePasquale said.

In 2008, the most common rate was 75 cents. Ten years later, and with next year's increase, that rate jumps to $2.25. For truck drivers, the price is even higher.

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"If you go from one end to the other it's over $200," a truck driver told us at the Oakdale Service Plaza.

That high cost just gets passed down the line to the consumer.

Not all the money collected goes to maintaining the Turnpike. Some go toward maintaining local roads and helping fund the Port Authority in Pittsburgh and SEPTA in Philadelphia.

It's all because of Act 44, legislation passed in 2007 to help Pennsylvania roads. The Turnpike has had to turn over $6.1 billion in funding for PennDOT since then. Truckers passing through don't think that's fair and filed a lawsuit against the Commission and Pennsylvania.

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"Highway users, whether they be Pennsylvania citizens or non-Pennsylvania citizens, they can't be the cash cow to basically fund every project in the state," said Todd Spencer, the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The auditor general is also looking at PennDOT spending and whether projects could be carried out more efficiently.

"One of the things we're looking at is, are we spending the money we have from the gas tax and other fees on the most critical needs for infrastructure first?" said DePasquale.

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