Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania might not move forward with a plan to toll nine bridges around the state, including two I-80 bridges in Jefferson and Clarion Counties, after the PA House of Representatives passed a bill that would stop the potential tolls.
Senate Bill 382 passed in a 125 to 74 vote in the House and now returns to the Senate.
The tolling plan was supposed to pay for repairs of the bridges, intended to free up money from the federal infrastructure bill to be used for other projects throughout PA.
Opponents, such as local Republican legislators who voted for the bill that would stop the tolling plan, say the tolls would hurt small town economies.
Press release from House of Representatives GOP Caucus:
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would shut down the current plan to toll nine bridges around Pennsylvania, including four on Interstate 80, drew support from state Reps. Mike Armanini (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria). Senate Bill 382, authored by state Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-35), passed with bipartisan support and now returns to the Senate for concurrence after being amended in the House.
“Two of the bridges are on I-80 in Jefferson (North Fork) and Clarion (Canoe Creek) counties, not far from our districts,” said Sankey. “In addition to significant truck traffic, these bridges are frequently used by local residents who would be asked to pay for the convenience of using the interstate, which is the primary reason I voted for the bill.”
Senate Bill 382 would require Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) board to develop a detailed analysis of any proposed transportation project prior to approval. The board failed to do that last November when it approved the transportation initiative that included implementation of a user fee without mentioning which bridges would be tolled.
“The legislation also lengthens the amount of time the General Assembly has to act on a proposal and includes a provision by which smaller groups of members in both the House and Senate could act independently and petition leadership for a vote,” Armanini added. “Senate Bill 382 would rightfully require the legislature to play a more active role in the process and corrects errors in the original P3 legislation, preventing a proposal like this from getting as far as it did in the future.”
HARRISBURG – The public would have greater input and oversight into potential highway and bridge tolling under legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday, said Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest).
Senate Bill 382, which passed the House by a vote of 125-74, would make needed reforms to the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) law by increasing transparency and clarifying the General Assembly’s voice in the process.
“Tolling carries a heavy burden on our local economy, and when PennDOT put forth its proposal earlier this year to toll two local bridges, including one here in Clarion County, I was surprised and disappointed,” Oberlander said. “The original P3 law was never designed to implement tolling on existing infrastructure, and it certainly was never intended to prevent the public from having a voice in the process of additional fees and tolls. P3 projects are supposed to be partnerships, not forced fees from one government agency.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 382 would prevent that from happening again, in addition to requiring PennDOT to create a detailed analysis of all P3 proposals to include exact locations and cost estimates, as well as social, economic and environmental impacts before a P3 board to approve.
“While I remain steadfastly against tolling, I understand the need to appropriately fund roads and bridges,” she added. “But I also realize that it will take far more innovative approaches so that the motoring public isn’t forced to foot the entire bill.”
The legislation is back in the Senate for final approval before going to the governor for his signature.
In the meantime, Oberlander encourages residents to continue submitting public comment to PennDOT on the impact of tolling. Residents can watch an online public meeting at penndot.gov/i80CanoeCreek and submit their public comments through Dec. 1 via the following:
• Email: i80CanoeCreek@pa.gov
• Hotline: (814) 201-9939
• Mail: PennDOT District 10, Attn: 1-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project, 2550 Oakland Avenue, Indiana, PA 15701-3388