State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Wolf says he'd like to re-examine transportation funding, reduce turnpike tolls

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 28, 2018 7:07 PM
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Pennsylvania has hiked its turnpike tolls annually for the past 11 years. If the state's transportation funding system doesn't change, the practice is expected to go on for decades. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf said this week that he wants to change the way Pennsylvania pays for transportation

There appears to be a growing consensus among lawmakers that the funding scheme isn't working--particularly when it comes to the heavily-indebted turnpike system.

The turnpike has raised its tolls every year since 2009. Come January, they're going up another six percent, to $1.38 on average for E-ZPass users. The tradition is expected to last decades.

It's long been a sore spot. Earlier this year, a group of truckers sued the turnpike and state over the tolls. And the Auditor General is reviewing turnpike finances for the second time in two years.

In an interview with KDKA Radio, Wolf also expressed displeasure. He said he thinks people are paying too much to use the turnpike, and the costs are driving business away.

The toll hikes date back to 2007, when the state passed Act 44. It required the Turnpike Commission to make large annual payments to the state--not just for its own operating costs, but for statewide road, bridge, and public transportation projects. To date, it has paid $6.1 billion.

A follow-up act passed several years ago will reduce the annual payments in 2022. But Wolf said that's still unsustainable.

He said he believes there's bipartisan support for a new system, though didn't specify what he would prefer.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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