PA Senate Committee Holds Hearing On PennDOT Bridge Tolling Proposal
On January 25, the Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing to take testimony on a proposal by PennDOT to begin tolling designated bridges in Pennsylvania. Read more here.
This initiative was approved by PennDOT’s Private Public Partnership Board (referred to as P3) at its November 20, 2020 meeting. Read more here.
At the Senate Committee hearing, representatives of trucking interests spoke in opposition to the tolling concept, saying if implemented, it would further cause truckers to seek alternative routes around Pennsylvania to avoid the state.
According to this testimony, the already high Pennsylvania motor fuel taxes and increasingly high Turnpike tolls are already diverting much truck traffic around the Commonwealth.
They also indicated contracts with customers do not provide for the ability to pass along tolls or fees to customers.
PennDOT Secretary Yasmin Gramian said the proposal was designed to address the widening gap between the state’s road and bridge maintenance needs and existing revenue.
She indicated that the Department is preparing a list of ten bridges to be considered for tolling, adding that all of these bridges would be on interstates, and focused on structures needing upgrades and repaired.
She pointed to a lack of a tax on the increasing number of electric vehicles on Pennsylvania highways as one contributing to the funding gap.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) spoke of his opposition to the plan, saying this is a backdoor approach to resurrect the proposal to toll I-80 that was rejected several years ago because of significant opposition from towns and businesses along that highway.
Senators Michele Brooks (R-Crawford) and Hutchinson have introduced a concurrent resolution– Senate Resolution 6— to block the tolling concept by a vote of both bodies of the General Assembly.