PennDOT exploring options to raise money including using GPS to track, tax road usage

Tolls might be coming for some Pennsylvania bridges

HARRISBURG, Pa. — PennDOT officials are exploring new ways to raise money to offset the agency’s losses made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Channel 11 told you about plans to expand tolls on certain bridges around the state.

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In addition to that, other options PennDOT is considering are:

  • Spot tolling: collecting fees from drivers passing through a specific location such as a tunnel or bridge.
  • Managed lanes: additional lanes on a highway where traffic can be regulated by charging a toll. This gives drivers the option of paying a fee, carpooling or using the regular lanes.
  • Rush hour pricing: users are charged based on the congestion of the highway
  • Corridor tolling: similar to what is in place on the Pennsylvania Turnpike
  • Road user charges: uses GPS technology to track the number of miles you drive wherein drivers would face a small fee for each mile they drive during the year
  • Fee & tax increases: increasing vehicle-related fees and/or increasing various taxes, except for the gas tax

PennDOT blames shrinking gas tax and federal money as a main reason it is facing an $8.1 billion shortfall in its annual highway and bridge transportation funding. A news release from the agency said federal funding rates have not changed for years and gas tax revenue has “become increasingly unreliable.”

All of this has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. 74% of PennDOT’s funding comes from the gas tax. With COVID-19, people are driving less which means fewer fill-ups at the gas pump and less tax money as a result.

According to PennDOT, the state ranks second in the nation in the terms of bridges in poor condition. Many interstate bridges were designed in the 1950s and 1960s and are approaching the end of their life-cycle. Additionally, Pennsylvania has five of the top 100 “truck bottlenecks” in the country.

To fix these and other problems, the agency is conducting a Planning and Environmental Linkages study to find near- and long-term solutions. Officials are asking for public comments on these plans:

  • Emails: penndotpathways@pa.gov
  • Call: 717-325-6129
  • Mail: PA Department of Transportation, Keystone Building, 400 North St., Fifth Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17120
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