These nine Pennsylvania bridges may start charging tolls

The I-83 South Bridge in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation identified nine bridges across the state for future tolling this week as a solution to the state’s ballooning infrastructure costs.

Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian told reporters the plan comes from the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative. Eventually, the department will choose private developers to build electronic tolling terminals that will charge motorists between $1 and $2 per trip.

The identified bridges include the I-83 South Bridge in Dauphin County; the I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge in Bucks County; the I-79 Bridgeville Interchange in Allegheny County; the I-80 Canoe Creek bridges in Clarion County; the I-80 Nescopeck Creek bridges in Luzerne County; the I-80 North Fork bridges in Jefferson County; the I-80 Lehigh River Bridge in Carbon and Luzerne counties; the I-81 Susquehanna Bridge in Susquehanna County; and the I-95 Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia.

The earliest tolls could be enforced – though it wouldn’t go into effect for all nine bridges at the same time – would be fall 2023.

“Our reliance on funding models from the last century leaves us especially vulnerable to fund losses stemming from volatile economic conditions and the increasing transition to alternative fuel or electric vehicles,” Gramian said. “This initiative will help us make much-needed improvements without compromising the routine projects our communities and industry partners rely on.”

PennDOT’s funding limitations have hampered infrastructure investment for decades and the state now estimates about half of its bridges are more than 50 years old. The department’s existing $6.9 billion budget for maintenance and repair is less than half of the $15 billion it needs to address the state’s many crumbling roads and bridges.

Gramian said federal funding, based in large part on the state’s gas tax, is also in short supply as pandemic restrictions keep more residents at home.