PA Turnpike Plans Smaller Toll Hikes

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – Drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike can except toll increases through 2050, officials said Wednesday, albeit at a slower rate than experienced over the past 15 years.

The announcement comes as the PA Turnpike Commission makes the last $450 million payment to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as part of a state law that diverted toll revenue to pay for mass transit projects across the state.

Since 2007, the commission has paid out $7.9 billion – funded through 6% annual toll increases and borrowing more than $14 billion.

Starting in 2022, however, the commission’s payment will shrink to $50 million, shifting the responsibility of the larger $450 million annual contribution onto PennDOT and the Motor License Fund.

Chief Engineer Bradley Heigel said now the commission can focus on projects that widen and improve the turnpike, with some sections dating back to 1940.

“In essence, we could only focus on what we call ‘protection’ projects, which are those that  maintain  the roadway and shelve, for the most part, our ‘performance’ projects which  are those that  improve upon our system,” he said. “These limited methods don’t last as long as true longterm reconstruction.”

Toll increases will help fund the reconstruction projects, Compton said. Fees will increase 5% annually through 2025, then drop to 4% in 2026, 3.5% in 2027 and 3% through 2050, based on current traffic and revenue projections.

“By returning control of our finances, the commission can invest in our system which means rebuilding and bettering our roadway as well as adding new access points and supporting the economic development that often follows,” Compton said.

Staff Reporter

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.