Cash customers of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will pay an extra 12 percent starting in January 2014, while E-ZPass customers will see a smaller increase of 2 percent. Truckers paying cash will need an extra $19.95 for a full-length trip that currently costs $166.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted July 15 to enact the next round of increases, similar to what it has done each of the past six years. It was during 2007 that then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed the controversial Act 44 into law, requiring the commission to pay $450 million each year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to fund transportation projects, including mass transit.
The larger increases for cash customers may drive more traffic to use E-ZPass, something the agency is hoping to make more attractive. Fifteen states, most of them in the Northeast, use E-ZPass to collect tolls. Many facilities, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, are taking steps to become all-electronic in the future.
Currently, a five-axle truck pays $166.27 for a cash trip of 300 miles from Pittsburgh to the New Jersey line. That toll would become $186.22 on Jan. 5, 2014, once the 12 percent is added.
Transportation funding is continually a hot-button issue in Pennsylvania.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch recently announced that the agency plans to restrict approximately 1,200 bridges by vehicle weight unless the Pennsylvania General Assembly comes up with more funding.
Schoch says without more road and bridge money, truckers will be left looking for other ways around restricted bridges, and that could pose safety problems.
State lawmakers are currently deliberating a 28-cent fuel-tax increase over five years as part of a long-term plan to fund transportation.
The bill includes a provision to phase out Act 44 by 2021 and eliminate the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s obligation to divert money to projects that aren’t related to the turnpike.
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