(HARRISBURG) – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) expressed serious concerns about PennDOT’s recent announcement to toll nine bridges on interstates across Pennsylvania, including a nine-mile stretch along Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County, and the Nescopeck Creek bridges on Interstate 80 in Luzerne County:
“We cannot ignore the fact that Pennsylvania already has a gas tax, which is dedicated to supporting our transportation infrastructure. Governor Wolf’s bridge tolling plan gives PennDOT the authority to further tax motorists and appropriate funds without legislative oversight. This is another instance where the Wolf Administration has overlooked crucial community and legislative input. I will be working with others to pass legislation to remedy that defect in state decision-making.
“Susquehanna County is already at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving its fair share of maintenance dollars because of a funding formula that shortchanges rural communities. Now Governor Wolf plans to ask residents to sacrifice again, by paying a fee to complete work that has already been underway and programmed.
“People use this route to travel to New York for work, shopping, and medical care. The surrounding infrastructure is already insufficient. Even modest increases in automobile and tractor trailer traffic from those looking to avoid the bridge toll will cause further wear and tear on these roads, and add to an already congested intersection, raising further safety concerns.
“In addition to commuters, the bridges in Luzerne County handle a great deal of commercial traffic from our industrial parks, which have been booming over the last few years. Tolls could have a lasting negative impact by halting future growth in the region.
“At a time when we need to be helping our communities recover from COVID-19, we should be looking for ways to foster greater job growth and development, while spending within our means, as working families are forced to do. If we have learned anything from the last year it should be that a unilateral approach to governing is not in the best interest of our state. We must work together in a bi-partisan manner and listen to our constituents.
“The governor needs to hear not only from legislators, but also directly from individuals adversely affected by this plan, as well as local elected officials and community leaders, to make sure their positions are known and their input is included in the discussion. I strongly encourage 20th Senatorial District constituents to join me in sharing their concerns with PennDOT by phone, email, or online.”
The complete plan is available at www.penndot.gov. Public comments are being accepted at:
I-81 Susquehanna Project
I-80 Nescopeck Bridges