(The Center Square) — As the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation tries to create more revenue streams to fund the state’s infrastructure, its plan to add bridge tolling has been halted by the courts.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday that pauses the Major Bridge P3 Program until a related lawsuit is settled. The program would add tolls to nine bridges spread across the state as one of a set of changes to replace dwindling gas tax revenue, which funds about 75 percent of PennDOT’s total funding, as The Center Square has previously reported.
“The court’s ruling on the preliminary injunction is restoring proper checks and balances on PennDOT’s power,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr., R-Clearfield, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “I now urge Gov. Wolf to work with the legislature and find a compromise that is in the best interests of the commonwealth.”
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PennDOT has also proposed an electric vehicle mileage fee program and a package or goods-delivery fee to lessen the reliance on the gas tax. However, the bridge tolling plan has attracted the most controversy.
Sen. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, issued a statement calling the bridge tolling plan “egregious” and “unfair and illegal taxation.”
To avoid bridge tolling, Langerholc has proposed reforms that would allow PennDOT to issue a $2 billion bond for bridge improvement projects, among other changes.
PennDOT has argued for tolling as a way to create sustainable funding for future bridge repair needs.
“The initiative will aim to provide travelers, residents, and businesses with high-quality transportation infrastructure by studying and implementing alternative funding solutions that could address near- and long-term highway and bridge needs,” the department said.
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.