Turnpike Commission has approved a more than 40 percent increase in tolls on
the state’s toll road, the agency announced Jan. 21.
The new rates, which will be effective Aug. 1, 2004,
represent the first increase in tolls on the road since 1991.
The current toll for an
80,000-pound, class 8 truck traveling the entire length of the turnpike’s
359-mile main line would increase from $105.55 to $150.75. That amount includes the
ticketed section of the road, plus the fee collected at the cash gate at the
DeFebo, a public information manager with the Turnpike Authority, told Land Line the increase would average
42.5 percent for the ticketed section of the turnpike.
Turnpike CEO Joseph G. Brimmeier said in a statement that
the toll hikes would finance a number of infrastructure improvements along the
aging east-west “Main Line” and Northeast Extension, doubling the rate of
capital spending over the next 10 years. The commission has pledged that all
revenue from the increase will be used for repairs and improvements to the
turnpike is a safe road today,” Brimmeier said. “But, if we do not implement a
toll hike, the potential clearly exists for the road to become unsafe.”
said the increase would be the last for the rest of this decade.
DeFebo said that one current
program could help truckers alleviate at least part of the increase. Under the
turnpike’s Commercial Credit Card Program, commercial vehicles can
receive discounts on tolls.
The program, which is available to those drivers who charge
at least $1,000 a year in tolls on the highway, offers a 10 percent to 20
percent discount to truckers, depending on how much they spend. To get the full
20 percent discount, a trucker would have to spend more than $10,000 a year on
turnpike tolls in Pennsylvania.
“Obviously, as part of this
increase, we want to promote it a little bit more, and soften the blow a little
bit” for truckers, DeFebo said.
But Todd Spencer, executive vice
president of OOIDA, scoffed at the idea that the toll discount would help. In
fact, Spencer suggested the discounts, by offering greater percentage discount
for higher amounts of toll payments, amounts to discrimination against
“They think they’re doing some
great favor,” Spencer said. “But all that really does is in essence add a
further discriminatory element to the fleecing that they’re already doing to
--by Mark H. Reddig, associate
Mark Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.