2009-01-08 / Front Page

Tolls On Tur npike Increased Sunday

Fares between toll booths will now be 25 percent higher

Pennsylvania Turnpike travelers may have experienced an economic jolt on Sunday as turnpike tolls were increased by 25 percent. The new rates become effective at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

With the new tolls, the mostcommon cash rate for passenger vehicles will increase from 75 cents to 95 cents, while the mostcommon cash rate for commercial vehicles will increase from $6.25 to $7.85.

According to a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission press release, the increase is required to enable the turnpike to meet financial obligations under Act 44, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Rendell in July 2007. With Act 44, the turnpike is providing $2.5 billion in supplemental transportation funding from August 2007 to May 2010. New toll revenue from the increase will mostly be used by PennDOT for off-turnpike investment. The press release goes on to say that "more than 90 percent of the toll-increase proceeds will benefit non-turnpike road and bridge projects and transit operations."

One Act 44 project scheduled for Fulton County is $3.750 million for concrete renovations to Route 30. Another Act 44 project scheduled for 2009 and 2010 is a curve realignment east of the Blue Mountain Tunnel.

The previous turnpike toll increase occurred in August 2004.

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.

In the future, the turnpike is taking a new approach to future toll increases. Starting in January 2010, tolls will go up incrementally about 3 percent each year compared to levying a large increase every dozen years or so. The commission has said that since half of its revenues are collected with E-ZPass, its simpler to implement annual rate changes today.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission operates and maintains 545 miles of toll roads in the state. It oversees 60 fare-collection facilities, 19 service plazas and 26 maintenance facilities. With 2,250 employees, it generated $619.2 million in annual gross toll revenue from 189.5 million vehicles a year for fiscal year 2008. Known as "America's First Superhighway," it opened Oct. 1, 1940. When the turnpike opened, the cost per driver was one penny per mile.

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