Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials announced Thursday, Dec. 4, that the Turnpike will supply $1.3 billion in new funding in the next year and a half for statewide road and bridge projects and mass-transit agencies with the upcoming 2009 toll increase resulting from Act 44 of 2007.
“The mission of America’s First Superhighway has changed, and that change is evident in every Pennsylvania county today because of the $1.2 billion we’ve already provided to PennDOT during the previous 16 months,” says Joseph Brimmeier, Turnpike chief executive officer. “No state has provided anywhere near this level of new funding.”
Under Act 44, passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell in July 2007, the Turnpike will provide a total of $2.5 billion in supplemental transportation funding from August 2007 to May 2010. In order to meet this obligation, most Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls will increase by 25 percent effective Jan. 4 — a year earlier than anticipated before the enactment of Act 44.
With the new fares, the most-common rates for commercial vehicles will increase from $2 to $2.50, from $2.25 to $2.85, from $3.50 to $4.40, from $6.25 to $7.85, and from $15.25 to $19.10. A full toll schedule is available online at www.paturnpike.com. The new rates will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4.
Tolls will increase across the entire system with two exceptions: Tolls on the newest sections (Findlay Connector/PA-576 and Mon-Fayette Expressway/Turnpike 43 Uniontown to Brownsville section) will remain at their current rates that were set in anticipation of the increase.
The Turnpike originally planned to implement a toll increase in January 2010, but the Commonwealth’s transportation funding crisis sparked the passage of Act 44 last year and the new toll-rate structure. “Back in 2004, we projected a need to increase tolls again by 25 percent in 2010,” Brimmeier says. “Now, our new Act 44 responsibilities dictate that the increase is needed one year earlier.” As a result of the toll increase, projected annual gross toll revenue will increase from $619.2 million (2008 fiscal year end) to about $738.4 million (projected 2010 fiscal year end).
Brimmeier also announced that the Turnpike is taking a new approach to how and when future increases are handled. Starting in January 2010, tolls will go up incrementally by about three percent each year. “In 2004, customers told us they prefer regularly scheduled increases so they can anticipate the change as opposed to levying a substantial increase every dozen years or so,” Brimmeier says. “And since more than half of our revenues are collected electronically with E-ZPass, it’s much simpler now to implement a recurrent rate change.”