Plans to slap a toll on the Interstate 81 bridge over the Susquehanna River in Susquehanna County have collapsed in a Pennsylvania Court.

The Commonwealth Court judges June 30 decided municipalities challenging the plan were right when they said Governor Tom Wolf’s administration and the Department of Transportation did not follow the law when studying and laying plans to charge for the use of eight bridges in Pennsylvania in order to pay for repairs and replacement.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)
Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Three Pittsburgh-area municipalities took the toll plans to court saying PennDOT only made public what bridges it was looking to toll months after the special board looking into how to pay for bridge repairs came up with a list of bridges.

That list of eight spans included a bridge over the Susquehanna River just south of Broome County and the New York border.  PennDOT said there could be scanners set to read license plates and EZPasses in order to bill vehicle owners with the fees going directly toward fixing the bridge the motorist had passed over.

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Local businesses on smaller routes that would most likely be used as a way of getting around the tolls had mixed feelings about the potential for higher traffic volumes.

While some said they could benefit from the exposure, others worried about increased accidents on two-lane roads.

In Susquehanna County, the most likely detour would have been traffic diverting off the interstate in Broome County and continuing south on Route 11.

Those raising the issue in the Commonwealth Court said there was a lack of transparency while PennDOT said it had several public hearings and opportunities online and in-person to comment.

The ruling last week not only halts the plans but stops any studies of the idea.  It’s been estimated Pennsylvania needs 15-billion dollars to maintain its highways and bridges.

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