(WTAJ) — A new way to fund bridge construction across Pennsylvania is moving forward and it could be costly for some drivers in our region. Two area bridges are among nine in the state that are slated to be tolled by PennDOT.
On Wednesday, the state transportation department announced the next steps for its PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative.
The department plans to use private investment to rebuild deficient bridges and toll them over a 30-year period to pay for the projects.
In our region, two bridge projects on Interstate 80—the North Fork Bridges in Jefferson County and the Canoe Creek Bridges in Clarion County are on the list.
Environmental studies and community engagement meetings for the initiative could start as early as next week.
According to PennDOT, if preliminary studies are successful, construction on some of the nine bridges could start in the fall of 2023.
At that time, drivers could begin paying one to two dollars both coming and going.
Ken McClain, the director for PennDOT said the department already has federal and state approval to go forward with the projects.
“If all of those future studies and processes work out, accordingly, then these bridges will be reconstructed with a P3 contract and be subsequently tolled,” he said.
McClain added that if the P3 program is successful with the nine bridges now planned, the funding method could be expanded to other transportation projects across the state.
Meantime, in response to PennDOT’s announcement on the P3 bridge projects, State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Wayne Langerholc released a statement.
“I have serious concerns with PennDOT’s authority to essentially tax and appropriate funds without additional oversight from the General Assembly,” said Senator Langerholc. “At a time when transparency to our constituents is of paramount concern, we must ensure the voices of our constituents are heard and that they are involved in the process.”
Senator Langerholc said he plans to introduce legislation that would bring transparency and accountability to the P3 statute.
For more information on the P3 Major Bridge Initiative, go to www.PennDot.gov/funding.
To comment on the P3 Major Bridge Initiative, you can email PennDOTPathways@pa.gov or call 1-717-325-6129.