EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — There will not be tolls put on interstate bridges in our region or anywhere in the state — thanks to a ruling handed down by the Commonwealth Court.
The Wolf Administration proposed the plan in 2020, and it was met immediately with criticism and controversy.
The interstate bridge tolling plan led to a firestorm of opposition. Those we spoke with are pleased that the plan is now “dead on arrival.”
“It was definitely a relief. I mean it would have been a traffic nightmare for the people in the town of White Haven,” said Janice Kittrick.
Janice Kittrick reacting to word that plans to put tolls on the nearby interstate 80 bridge -are permanently halted. She is taking her 93-year-old mother-alma- for lunch in downtown white haven.
Folks in this small community feared that traffic would detour through white haven during the construction of the tolling system. And drivers, namely truck drivers–would go through white haven to avoid the tolls.
“This is the one main strip right here coming down Berwick street getting off 80 right up here at the white haven exit. It would be a nightmare, this really is the main road coming through town,” stated Kittrick.
The Wolf Administration had proposed tolling nine bridges in the commonwealth. To help fund an 8.1 billion dollar funding gap for bridge replacements.
Several communities in western Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit saying PennDOT dot did not follow the law when it came up with the plan.
The so-called P-3 initiative did not identify specific bridges when it was first proposed in 2020.
The court also ruled PennDOT dot did not provide for meaningful public input from communities impacted by the bridge tolling. State Senator Lisa Baker reacted to the court ruling.
“The tolling plan didn’t affect everyone in Pennsylvania. It disproportionately impacted rural communities and employees in those areas,” explained Backer.
Pittston mayor mike Lombardo says tolling interstates would have a negative impact on the local economy.
“I think we have to be careful with tolling and I understand we have to fund things but I think we need to look at better ways to do that. That doesn’t create more challenges for truck drivers and people distributing products,” stated Mayor Mike Lombardo of Pittston.
A spokesperson for PennDOT issued this statement to the I-Team:
To date, the legislature has failed to offer any solutions beyond their approval of the pe3 initiative that will assist the administration’s desire to phase out the gas tax.
The Wolf Administration continues to welcome discussions with the general assembly on alternative funding sources that can replace the gas tax, which is no longer a dependable source of funding to meet all bridge and highway needs in the commonwealth.”Alexis Campbell, press secretary at PennDOT
Senator Baker tells the I-Team there is a bill in the works that will provide alternative funding sources so interstate bridge tolling would not be necessary.