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Tolls might be coming for some Pennsylvania bridges

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Drivers might soon have to pay a toll to cross some bridges in Pennsylvania.

This comes as reconstruction and rehabilitation of bridges in Pennsylvania can be accelerated after a new program was approved, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.

Five to 10 major bridges in the state are expected to get the tolls, which would help pay for the construction, officials said.

“Right now, we are going through a very detailed analysis program of all of the large bridges in the Commonwealth to try to determine which one of these bridges are the correct bridges for inclusion in the program,” PennDOT Alternative Funding Program Director Ken McClain said.

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The Major Bridge P3 program will allow PennDOT to achieve the following goals when it comes to critical work on bridges across the state:

  • Accelerate the renewal of major bridges to ensure public safety.
  • Avoid time and financial impacts of travel diversion resulting from bridge restrictions and closures due to bridge condition.
  • Help offset gas tax revenue losses, as identified by the state Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Ensure users (including out-of-state traffic) contribute fairly to the replacement or rehabilitation of the bridges based on usage.
  • Create a sustainable funding model for the state’s major bridges.

“The Major Bridge P3 program will allow for the delivery of these major bridges through the appropriate contracting P3 delivery model for each project or package of projects,” a news release said.

“Many of our interstate bridges and expressway bridges were designed in the 50s and built in the 60s. So they’re encroaching 60, 70 years of their life cycle,” McClain said.

PennDOT said that when considering the P3 delivery model for major bridges, it will be applied in a geographically balanced manner statewide.

Structures are considered major bridges based on physical size, location and cost to replace or rehabilitate.

“These structures are in a condition that warrants timely attention to enhance safety and to avoid disruptions and community impacts if closures or weight restrictions were imposed,” PennDOT’s news release said.

Pennsylvania’s Public Private Transportation Partnership (P3) Board approved the initiative.

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