HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania state and local lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol building on Wednesday in bipartisan opposition to PennDOT’s tolling plan.
The plan to toll nine aging bridges is currently tied up in the courts after a judge sided with Cumberland County and a handful of municipalities that are challenging the process as both illegal and unconstitutional.
PennDOT believes the tolling is necessary to pay for plans to replace nine aging bridges across the state. The proposed toll would be between one and two dollars, and lawmakers who are against the plan say it’ll cost the average commuter an extra $1,000 a year.
“With the price of gasoline, with inflation at the rate that it is, already many people in Cumberland County are living below a livable wage, and so where are they going to get that extra money from,” asked Cumberland County Commissioner Jean Foschi.
The nine bridges that would be affected include:
- 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)
“It is never acceptable for the hardworking people of Pennsylvania to pay a new tax, fee or toll when gas prices are skyrocketing,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
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In the lawsuit filed in March, lawyers for the county and municipalities argued both that the process followed by PennDOT and the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board violated the 2012 law that created the board.
In part, they said that residents of the county and municipalities had not had a legitimate opportunity to be heard on one of the bridges that might be tolled — I-83′s South Bridge across the Susquehanna River — before the board gave PennDOT permission to pursue it.
The lawyers also argued that the law itself violated constitutional prohibitions against the Legislature delegating its taxation authority, in this case to the board.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.