HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — PennDOT is looking for community input about a proposed project on the I-83 bridge. But some local lawmakers have already made up their minds, and now they’re fighting against the plan.
On Thursday PennDOT released a proposal to replace the I-83 South Bridge Project in Dauphin County. They’re planning to pay for it with a toll, which is causing some pushback.
The project could cost around $600 million. PennDOT is considering a $1-$2 toll to pay for it.
PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said they needed to come up with additional funding to make the project happen.
“We have investment needs that exceed our current funding. And this deficit gets worse every year,” Gramain said. “Tolling of major bridges is a viable near-term solution to funding their reconstruction or replacement.”
On Friday they launched a webpage to give the community more information about their proposal and ask for feedback.
Lawmakers like Republican state senator John DiSanto are already pushing back against the toll.
“There’s so many things we could be looking at before we say we’re going to raise taxes on residents,” DiSanto said.
PennDOT argues this toll is actually the fairest way to fund the project.
“Users, all users, including out-of-state traffic contribute fairly to the replacement or rehabilitation of the bridges based on usage,” Gramian said.
Senator DiSanto said he supports infrastructure projects, but thinks this one will hurt local business.
“It’s going to raise the cost of business. It’s going to raise the cost of transportation. Which is going to drive business and residents out of Pennsylvania as opposed to bringing them in,” DiSanto said.
PennDOT disagrees with that.
“By investing in our infrastructure, we will enable Pennsylvania to remain economically viable into the future,” Gramain said.
But DiSanto and other lawmakers are planning to oppose the toll, and have conversations with PennDOT leaders about finding other funding for the bridge.
“We need to come up with real ways to fund this infrastructure improvement, and not all these gimmicks,” DiSanto said.
PennDOT is hosting a public telephone town hall on March 16th at 6 P.M. If you want to participate you can pre-register at www.penndot.gov/i83SouthBridge to receive a phone call to join at the start of the meeting, or can dial in directly to the meeting at (855)-756-7520; Entry Code Ext: 71648#.