(HARRISBURG) – Following extensive feedback from constituents who have voiced concerns regarding the Wolf Administration plans to toll nine interstate bridges across the state, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) joined colleagues today, to announce the introduction of legislation to stop the proposed new tolls for motorists.
Senate Bill 382 would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and void the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
“It is greatly troubling that Governor Wolf’s bridge tolling plan gives PennDOT the authority to further tax motorists and appropriate funds without legislative oversight,” Senator Baker said. “The legislation that we have introduced in the Senate today is a way to stand up for the hardworking residents of our Commonwealth and come together to address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, while forcing government to be accountable to taxpayers. We cannot ignore the fact that motorists are already feeling the pain of increased prices when filling their gas tanks, and that Pennsylvania already has a gas tax, which is dedicated to supporting our transportation infrastructure.”
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported a proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The serious gaps in the P3 statute became clear when PennDOT finally announced the details of the proposal three months after the P3 Board meeting. The P3 statute requires a detailed analysis prior to the meeting.
Senate Bill 382 will accomplish the following:
- Increases transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandating PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
- Incorporates public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board meeting.
- Creates checks and balances on the obscure P3 Board by clarifying any P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the General Assembly approves.
- Voids the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and requires reconsideration by the P3 Board following the new process outlined in Senate Bill 382.
Act 88 authorized the creation of the P3 Board to expedite transportation projects in Pennsylvania. There are various P3s benefiting the Commonwealth’s transportation system, such as the construction of compressed natural gas fueling stations at transit agencies and the rapid replacement of 558 state-owned bridges.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on January 25 to examine the loopholes of this P3 Initiative. The Committee expects to consider Senate Bill 382 this month.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner firstname.lastname@example.org