Dush Votes to Hit the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan

(HARRISBURG) – Pennsylvania Senator Cris Dush (R-25) today voted to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT plan to toll nine Pennsylvania bridges, including the I-79 bridge near I-80 North Fork Bridges Project in Jefferson County.

“According to PennDOT, it’s a $2 toll per day each way for someone travelling across both bridges in my area to get to work. That’s $20 a week. That’s $1,000 a year for people where the median income is $40,000 a year,” Senator Dush said on the Senate floor. “That’s a tremendous tax increase to those people. That is an astounding unilateral tax increase on my constituents. Not done by their representative or by their state legislative but by a board with no real accountability.”

Senate Bill 382, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 28-19, will:

  • Increase transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandating PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
  • Incorporate public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board meeting.
  • Create checks and balances on the obscure P3 Board by clarifying any P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the General Assembly approves.
  • Void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and require reconsideration by the P3 Board following the new process outlined in Senate Bill 382.

The P3 Board was created in 2012 to examine potential public-private transportation projects. On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system.  This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.

The serious gaps in the P3 statute became clear when PennDOT finally announced the details of the proposal three months after the P3 Board meeting.  The P3 statute requires a detailed analysis prior to the meeting.

PennDOT will proceed with imposing tolls on the following nine bridges, unless the General Assembly passes Senate Bill 382:

Senate Bill 382 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Zack Ankeny