Pa. Senate Demands Legislative Approval for Bridge Tolls
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans are working to park Governor Tom Wolf administration's plans to pay for expensive bridge repairs by charging tolls on nine major spans, including one on Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County.
The caucus and one Democrat voted April 27 to impose a requirement that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation first get approval from the legislature before imposing new revenue-raising for bridge reconstruction and repair in spite of the formation of a public/private partnership committee years ago that was charged with finding new ways to pay for infrastructure upkeep.
The new restriction passed the Senate in a 28-19 vote as Republicans claim the process leading up to PennDOT announcing in February plans to erect structures on deteriorating bridges that would record EZPass and license plate information to charge tolls, raising repair funds for that specific span wasn't what lawmakers actually intended when the partnership board was created in 2012.
The Republicans are also claiming a lack of transparency in the toll planning process.
Most Democrats are accusing G.O.P. lawmakers of failing to live up to obligations to pay for transportation needs. They say PennDOT's toll bridge plans are within the realm of possible new funding sources intended in the 2012 Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board legislation.
Governor Tom Wolf's administration is opposed to the Senate action on April 27.