PennDOT is moving forward with tolling of nine interstate bridges across the state through a progressive public-private partnership (P3) with the approved initiative for a period of likely 30 years or longer.
In Pennsylvania, the Major Bridge P3 (Public-Private Partnership) initiative was approved in November 2020 that will add tolls to yet-to-be determined bridges to help speed up and pay for the “reconstruction and rehabilitation” of major bridges throughout the state.
According to the initiative, PennDOT is currently carrying an annual funding gap of over $8.1B to maintain and improve state-owned bridges and highways.
How will the Major Bridge P3 initiative help the state?
According to the initiative, the goals of the funds collected include:
- accelerating the renewal of major bridges to ensure public safety,
- avoid time and financial impacts of travel diversion resulting from bridge restrictions and closures due to bridge conditions,
- help offset gas tax revenue losses which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,
- ensure in-state and out-of-state traffic to contribute fairly to the replacement or rehabilitation of the bridges based on usage, and
- create a sustainable funding model for the state’s major bridges.
How will the Major Bridge P3 initiative affect the trucking industry?
This is the second initiative approved in the past decade aimed at improving roads and aging bridges on top of the highest fuel tax rates in the nation that lean heavily on the trucking industry.
According to Joe Butzer, Interim President of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, “the trucking industry in PA already pays more than $2B in Federal and State Highway taxes and pays 39% of all taxes owed by Pennsylvania motorists despite trucks only representing 9% of all the miles traveled.”
Fleets will need to plan to pay more toll bridge fees as they travel through Pennsylvania.
However, in a recent update: SB 382, introduced by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, would halt the project to provide more transparency and public input, as well as require P3s with a user fee to be approved by the legislature. PMTA has strongly supported SB 382, which passed the state Senate 28-19 and is now in the House Transportation Committee.