Pennsylvania House panel passed legislation calling for state
officials from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to conduct audits of
the agency that sets tolls and manages bridges over the Delaware
House Intergovernmental Affairs Committee voted unanimously to
advance the bill. It now heads to the House floor for consideration.
was introduced this summer amid controversy over toll increases
the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission imposed last November
for seven toll bridges it maintains between the two states and
questions about how the revenue is to be spent, The Associated
Press reported recently.
increase hiked tolls on trucks from 80 cents per axle to $2.25
per axle. Tolls on cars were doubled from 50 cents to $1. In 2004,
truck tolls are to increase again to $2.75 per axle.
agency said the new rates were needed to help fund a 10-year,
$526 million capital improvement plan for economic development.
then, The Morning Call reported that the commission intended
to use about $250 million from the increases for unauthorized
agency officials deny they have misled anyone about the commission’s
intentions, Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, said in a recent
statement his bill would require both states to conduct performance
and financial audits of the commission every two years to guarantee
the toll revenue is being properly managed.
using these bridges and paying these tolls deserve to know how
the toll revenues are being used,” Freeman said, “particularly
in light of the revelation that the commission was planning on
using some of the toll revenue for economic development that is
beyond its stated mission.”
provision was approved in New Jersey years ago but requires the
same language to be approved in Pennsylvania and in Congress before
it can be implemented.