Jun. 30, 2022
– Plans to toll nine current bridges in Pennsylvania under the Department of Transportation’s Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative are permanently halted under a final order by the state’s Commonwealth Court, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) said today.
“The court has wisely agreed that its temporary order from earlier last month is the right interpretation of the law,” said Oberlander, who has been a staunch opponent to any form of tolling existing highways and structures. “The court took a look at the case before them and found that PennDOT has no authority to toll these bridges, including ones in Clarion and Jefferson counties, under current law. This is tremendous news for our area and for our future.”
“This decision is truly outstanding news for the residents and businesses of our region and all of Pennsylvania,” said Hutchinson. “All along, we have argued that this tolling initiative was a half-baked, illegal money-grab by PennDOT and the Wolf Administration, lacking in public transparency and legislative approval, and the courts have agreed.”
Specifically, the court ruled that PennDOT clearly violated the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) law when its P3 Board voted to toll interstate bridges it planned to repair or replace but did not name the specific ones. Three months later, in February 2021, PennDOT announced the list at the governor’s direction. According to Act 88 of 2012, the board must assess each project’s scope, framework and impact on citizens and do a cost/benefit analysis before approving a project. PennDOT could appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, costing even more taxpayer money.
Both agreed that maintaining our transportation infrastructure is vital, and next steps must be to take a comprehensive look at current and future funding to ensure the safety of roads, bridges and highways across the state.