(The Center Square) – Drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike can expect 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.
“This marks our final major payment to PennDOT, but it also marks our next, unburdened, step into our financial future,” said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “The commission and our customers have done our fair share to support ground transportation statewide, but we now look forward to returning focus to our own system and investing in its future.”
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.