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PennDOT believes it has the authority to implement tolls on interstate bridges to pay for replacement and maintenance and is advancing a plan to begin tolling nine bridges beginning in 2023. While municipalities and business groups are mounting legal challenges to the PennDOT plan, a bill being considered in Harrisburg would require the legislature’s approval for tolling. The Chamber’s board of directors is supporting the bill with the hope of blocking the tolling and providing oversight over any future plans.
Senate Bill 382 would prescribe a more open and transparent process for future projects proposed under the Public Private Partnership (P3) law adopted in 2012. Specifically, a detailed analysis would have to be developed prior to any consideration by the P3 board, and a 30-day public comment period would be held following publication of the project in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Additionally, any P3 project that includes a user fee would require legislative approval.
The legislation passed in the House in mid-November and is awaiting final consideration in the Senate. As Governor Wolf is expected to veto the bill, the Chamber is gathering information on the various lawsuits across the state that challenge the legal authority of PennDOT to implement tolling.