Tolls set to increase in Pennsylvania, Texas and Hampton Roads

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 12/31/2013

It will cost truckers more to use toll roads in Pennsylvania and Texas in the New Year. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Hampton Roads, Va., and a handful of other facilities are adjusting their rates as well.

A loaded five-axle truck traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Ohio border to the Delaware River crossing will pay $228 for a full-length trip starting Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. That’s a 12 percent increase over the current cash rate of $204.10.

The E-ZPass price of $160.96 will increase 2 percent to $164.17 by comparison.

Pennsylvania Turnpike officials say the steeper increase for cash tolls should get more customers signing up to use E-ZPass. At some point down the road, the turnpike plans to eliminate the cash option altogether.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has increased tolls every year since 2007, when a state law began requiring the agency to pay the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation $450 million each year. The money pays for projects such as mass transit that have nothing to do with the operation of the turnpike.

According to a turnpike press release, the agency has paid out $4.1 billion so far.

Fortunately, a recent law known as Act 89 of 2013 will reduce the $450 million annual payments to $50 million a year starting in 2023.

The agency has not said whether the reduction will one day break the streak of toll increases.

Moving on to Texas, a toll discount that some truckers have used on portions of the State Highway 130 and State Highway 45 toll roads in the Austin area is coming to an end Jan. 1, 2014. On top of that, the Texas Department of Transportation is adding a slight toll increase for all vehicle classes.

TxDOT Spokesman Mark Cross says the discount that allowed truckers to pay $11 – the same rate that four-wheelers paid – on segments 1-4 of the SH 130 and the SH 45E will go back to the regular truck rate of $29 as 2014 begins.

A similar discount on segments 5-6 of the SH 130 already expired Nov. 30, 2013.

The agency experimented with the discounts in an effort to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 35. By most accounts, the discounts had the desired effect but were seen as temporary measures. The agency will collect the full toll amount from trucks to help meet its financial obligations.

TxDOT also plans to increase the toll rate by a few cents for all vehicle classes on segments 1-4 of the SH 130 and the SH 45 starting Jan. 1, 2014. Those toll increases amount to between 3 and 9 cents for five-axle trucks.

In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, a typical five-axle tractor trailer will pay $39 to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel effective Jan. 1. That’s up $4 from the previous toll of $35 that had been in effect since March of 2013.

A six-axle truck will pay $47, an increase of $5.

The Mackinac Bridge in Michigan that was initially scheduled for a toll increase in 2014 will spare its customers for an additional year until January 2015.

Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman William Gnodtke announced Dec. 13 that the agency was able to delay the toll increase because of reduced energy consumption and other efficiencies.

There’s a good chance tolls will increase in the future on the Golden Gate Bridge in California. Truckers have an opportunity to help shape the options by participating in public hearings and the comment process.

Public hearings are scheduled at the following locations and times:
Marin County: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at The Whistlestop, Caboose Meeting Room, 930 Tamalpais Avenue, San Rafael, Calif.
Sonoma County: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Petaluma Community Center, Activity Room, 320 N. McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma, Calif.
City and County of San Francisco: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Fort Mason Center, The Gatehouse, 2 Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, Calif.
Formal Public Hearing: Feb. 12, 2014, 7 p.m., San Rafael City Council Chambers, 1400 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael, Calif.

Click here for more information on the Golden Gate Bridge toll process. Public comments are due Feb. 12, 2014.

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