PennDOT considers tolling roadways

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is looking for ways to close their $8.1 million highway and bridge funding gap.

According to PennDOT’s press secretary Alexis Campbell, about 74% of all their transportation funding comes from the gas tax. But due to the pandemic this year, that source of revenue fell short.

“In the early days when we were really hunkered down in March and April, our traffic volumes went down about 40% or higher during those early weeks and we lost about 400 million dollars…that’s never coming back,” said Campbell.

According to Campbell, they are looking at their options. One of which, to add tolls to major bridges on interstates and expressways.

“That would allow us to replace or make significant refurbishments to those big, big, bridges that need a lot of work on the interstate network and essentially make them self sufficient,” said Campbell.

State Representative Matt Gabler is concerned with PennDOT’s plans.

He thinks tolling a bridge would essentially mean tolling the entire interstate that the bridge is on.

“When you build a highway through our area in the 1960’s… let it be toll free for 60 years and then change the rules on us after people have made their investments, built their factories, established their jobs, made the investments in our area…then change the mathematics in a way that could hurt our jobs, hurt our families, and hurt our economy. There’s really not a way to adjust to that,” said Gabler.

Gabler says the public’s input is crucial, because if the community is against PennDOT’s plans, PennDOT can’t claim that the tolls are something the community wanted.

“I am calling on citizens across the region to make their public comments known that we don’t want our interstate highway the life blood of our local economy to be turned into a toll road,” said Gabler.

PennDOT’s plans are still under construction.

According to Campbell, they are still in the beginning stages, and will not move forward with any project without first getting the community’s input.

“We know that any decision we make has an impact on the community and that’s precisely why we really do want to hear that feedback,” said Campbell.

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