Bridge toll proposal: Users should pay
Those who use something should pay for it. Doesn’t that makes sense?
So who can blame Gov. Tom Wolf for proposing that motorists pay a toll when driving over a group of bridges in Pennsyvlania?
Pennsylvania motorists already pay a gasoline tax to maintain and develop roads and bridges in the Keystone State.
What alternative to a user tax, toll or fee would anyone propose?
Frankly, we like that idea over paying what is the United States’ second highest gasoline tax, which is just what those who buy gas in Pennsylvania pay. Of course, that’s surmising the gas tax will be decreased with the new tolls. But perhaps we’re naive.
The pandemic, meanwhile, saw gasoline demand drop. That meant gas tax revenue dropped — and rather significantly.
In addition, with more electric cars, vehicles getting better gas mileage and more folks working from home, there’s less gas being used.
Therefore, the money being derived from the gas tax can’t keep up with the money needed for fixing our infrastructure.
User fees and state police: User fees are being suggested to raise some of the cash needed for the upgrades.
PennDOT said alternative funding should be explored.
Gov. Wolf agreed, thus the bridge tolling idea.
Those bridges are:
— Route 83 at Daughin and Cumberland counties
— Nescopeck Creek Bridge-Route 80 at Luzerne County.
— Lehigh River Bridge-Route 80 at Luzern and Carbon counties
— Lenhartsville Bridge on Route 78 at Berks County
— Girard Point Bridge on Interstate 95 at Philadelphia
— North Fork Bridge on Interstate 80 at Jefferson County.
— Canoe Breek Bridge on Interstate 80 at Clarion
— Bridgeville Interchange and nearby on Interstate 79 at Allegheny County.
— Susquehanna Project on Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County.
In as soon as 30 months, motorists could be paying tolls to use nine bridges across the state, including the Interstate 79 bridge over Route 50 in Bridgeville.
The state Department of Transportation announced Thursday the first projects for a new public-private partnership in which private firms will design and replace aging bridges and agree to maintain them for up to 30 years. The state will charge tolls — likely from $1 to $2 — to pay for the work.
The department hasn’t decided whether tolling would begin when it signs contracts to start work or after a project has been completed. It will go through a series of public meetings to discuss the projects and explain any environmental disruptions they could cause.
As always, who will pay?