The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is moving forward with a plan to fund infrastructure improvements by adding tolls to some of the state’s bridges.
On February 18, PennDOT shared a list of nine bridges being considered for tolling as part of the state’s Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative, which the agency says will “leverage private investment to rebuild critical bridges during a period with historically low interest rates and a favorable labor market.”
The 9 bridges that are under consideration for tolling are listed below.
- I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement Project (Berks County)
- I-79 Widening, Bridges and Bridgeville Interchange Reconfiguration (Allegheny County)
- I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges (Clarion County)
- I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges (Luzerne County)
- I-80 North Fork Bridges Project (Jefferson County)
- I-80 Over Lehigh River Bridge Project (Luzerne and Carbon counties)
- I-81 Susquehanna Project (Susquehanna County)
- I-83 South Bridge Project (Dauphin County)
- I-95 Girard Point Bridge Improvement Project (Philadelphia County)
PennDOT officials say that they’ll spend the next year evaluating each bridge project individually to assess possible benefits and viability.
PennDOT says that the collected tolls will be used to fund bridge repairs or replacements. The agency has not yet specified toll payment amounts.
“Bridge tolling provides funds to reconstruct or replace these costly bridges without depleting PennDOT’s ability to deliver its current program of projects, thus allowing existing funding to continue to be used for needed roadway and bridge safety and operational improvements. Tolling would be all electronic and collected by using E-ZPass or license plate billing. The funds received from the toll would go back to the bridge where the toll is collected to pay for the construction, maintenance and operation of that bridge,” PennDOT said in a news release.
PennDOT points to declining revenue from fuel taxes due to the pandemic as a reason for implementing tolls on bridges: “Seventy-four percent of highway and bridge funding is generated through gas taxes, but fuel consumption has been progressively decreasing. The initiative will aim to provide travelers, residents, and businesses with high-quality transportation infrastructure by studying and implementing alternative funding solutions that could address near- and long-term highway and bridge needs.”
Pennsylvania Turnpike drivers have already seen a significant uptick in tolls this year after the rate increased by 6% on January 3, 2021.