Hutchinson Supports Legislation Addressing PENNDOT Bridge Tolling Plan

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Senator Scott Hutchinson joined colleagues today (March 11) to announce the introduction of legislation to stop the proposed plan to toll bridges on Pennsylvania’s interstate system. Senate Bill 382 would void the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PENNDOT) Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) Initiative and reform the P3 statute.

On February 18, PENNDOT announced that the Interstate 80 Canoe Creek Bridge over State Route 4005 (Tippecanoe Road) and Canoe Creek in Clarion County is among nine spans identified by PENNDOT for tolling. Under the plan the toll would be $1 to $2 for passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles would pay a higher toll based on number of axles.

“Senate Bill 382 addresses what is clearly another proposal by this Governor to raise taxes without legislative approval,” Senator Hutchinson said. “The Legislature never intended the P3 statute to be a blank check for the Administration. Pennsylvania motorists already pay the second-highest gas tax in the nation. Those revenues are supposed to be dedicated to paying for highway and bridge improvements.”

On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PENNDOT’s jurisdiction, supported a proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system.  This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.

Senate Bill 382 will accomplish the following:

  • Increase transparency by requiring PENNDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandating PENNDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
  • Incorporate public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board meeting.
  • Create checks and balances on the obscure P3 Board by clarifying any P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the General Assembly approves.
  • Void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and requires reconsideration by the P3 Board following the new process outlined in Senate Bill 382.

In addition to the Clarion County bridges, PENNDOT is also proposing the tolling of three additional areas on Interstate 80: the North Fork Bridge in Jefferson County; the Nescopeck Creek Bridge in Luzerne County; and, the bridge over the Lehigh River in Luzerne and Carbon counties.

“This is nothing more than a backdoor tax increase on rural Pennsylvania. Two-thirds of the tolling sites are in rural areas, where many of the residents rely on these interstate highways to hold down a job or shop for basic necessities,” Senator Hutchinson said. “They don’t have the luxury of finding alternative routes to avoid the tolls.”

Click here for complete video of the press conference.

Contact:          Justin Leventry           jleventry@pasen.gov