HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A resolution to explore a possible merger of PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is heading toward a vote in the state Senate.

Senate Resolution 209 calls on the Joint State Government Commission to study the potential consolidation, creating an Interstate Operations division at PennDOT.

The report would be due within 18 months of the resolution passing and would look at any potential cost savings a consolidation could mean for taxpayers, as well as customer service improvements. It would also identify any federal and state laws that could impact consolidation.

Officials with the Senate Transporation Committee say they’re unaware of any previous study evaluating a potential consolidation.

“We want to ensure an independent review has occurred first before entertaining any legislation that might consider consolidating these interstate operations,” said Nolan Ritchie, executive director of the Senate Transporation Committee. “We are also interested to learn from the study if there could be any cost savings or efficiencies realized between the state agencies, particularly to help manage the Turnpike’s debt.”

That debt is currently estimated at $12 billion.

“We will cooperate with the study and look forward to seeing the results,” PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission declined to comment at this time.

Senate Resolution 209 was unanimously reported out of the Senate Transportation Committee last week. It requires approval in the full Senate before the study can begin.