Back in November, the Public Private Transportation Partnership Board supported a proposal allowing the Department of Transportation to toll several interstate bridges across Pennsylvania. Now, as the notion gets closer to becoming a reality, trucking advocates are speaking out on the detrimental effects that such can cause for motor carriers.
A list of bridge candidates will be presented by the state in the upcoming weeks from which as many as 10 may be chosen to receive a toll. The amount of such could range as much as $1 to $2.
According to PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian, the bridges under consideration would be located along the interstates and wouldn’t be restricted to one area but rather dispersed statewide so as not to place the entire burden on one geographical location. Other factors that would influence the candidates would be “traffic volume, the condition of the bridge and the size of the bridges.” (1)
The initiative is expected to bring in over $1.8 billion which would go towards bridge rehabilitation/replacement/maintenance as well as “other projects in the same transportation district,” according to Gramian.
But trucking industry supporters are testifying against the tolls stating that such would harmful to truckers.
Joe Butzer, interim president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association told the Senate transportation committee that the additional bridge tolls “could ‘destroy’ the state’s trucking industry” and was “the wrong approach to increasing the highway funding needed to keep Pennsylvania’s infrastructure sound.” (1)
Butzer explained that trucking companies operate on a 1-3% margin with the cost of operating a truck going up every year, stating a $7,400 increase since 2012. (2) To pass these costs onto customers would be very hard as customers would inevitably argue that an alternative route should have been used.
By July, a statewide transportation funding plan is expected to be finalized which would look at alternative revenue streams such as congestion pricing and vehicle miles traveled.