Some truckers would have to pay $150 to cross the state of
Pennsylvania if the state’s Turnpike Commission OKs a proposed toll increase.
The proposal would be the first toll increase in 13 years,
the Turnpike Commission said in a statement. Commercial vehicles would see an
average increase of 5.3 cents per mile, while passenger cars would see an average
increase of 1.7 cents per mile. The main line of the turnpike runs 359 miles
from the Ohio border to the Delaware River.
The current toll for an
80,000-pound, class 8 truck traveling the entire length of the main line is
$98.05, plus a $7.50 cash gateway fee at the Ohio border crossing – a total of
According to Carl DeFebo, a public
information manager with the Turnpike Authority, if the increase goes into
effect, that will increase to $140, plus a $10.75 cash gateway fee at the Ohio
border – a total of $150.75.
DeFebo said the increase would
average 42.5 percent for the ticketed section of the turnpike. The total
increase for the class 8 truck would run $45.20.
The commission said in its
statement that the additional money would be used for repairs and to
reconstruct portions of the roadway.
“The Pennsylvania Turnpike is
America’s first superhighway,” DeFebo said. “It was built in ’38 and ’39, and
opened in 1940. Eisenhower signed the Interstate Act in ’54, so that’s 15 years
prior to the interstates.
“That’s really the reason for this
increase,” he added. “It has to do with our need to renew our infrastructure. I
would think that professional drivers more than anyone else can relate to the
fact that we really need to rebuild the highway.”
“It has been 13 years since turnpike tolls have gone up, and
more than a quarter century since we've had an increase that was earmarked to
rebuild the original roadway, ” Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Joseph G. Brimmeier
said in a statement. “Today, our turnpike is safe and reliable. But the cold
truth is that it will not be safe and reliable much longer if we do not act
now. And the only way we can do that is to increase tolls.”
Other changes could take place if
tolls rise. The commission said in a release that some sections of the toll road now posting a 55 mph speed
limit might be raised to 65 mph once improvements are made. The speed limit is
currently the same for all vehicles.
addition, the rebuilding is being designed so that the road could be widened to
three lanes in each direction; some portions are already being widened,
according to a report from Toll Road News.
vehicles make up between 14 percent and 15 percent of all traffic on the
turnpike, DeFebo said. However, the fees they pay make up roughly half of the
toll road’s revenue. More than 61,000 commercial vehicles traveled
the highway every day in 2002, according to the commission.
The turnpike’s main line, at 359
miles, follows I-76. It begins north and west of Pittsburgh, passes on the east
side of that city, heads south and east toward the state capital of Harrisburg,
and ends on the north side of Philadelphia. The Northeast Extension of the
turnpike, I-476, is roughly 110 miles. It starts in the Philadelphia area,
passes by Allentown and Wilkes-Barre, and ends at Clarks Summit near I-81.
The turnpike commissioners
are expected to vote on the proposed increase Jan. 20. If they approve the
measure, tolls would rise Aug. 1.
--by Mark H. Reddig,
Mark Reddig can be reached