Thompson lacks confidence in PennDOT tolling plan

Congressman Glenn Thompson expressed his concerns during a telephone town hall Wednesday about PennDOT’s proposal to toll nine interstate bridges, including the Canoe Creek Bridge in Clarion County and the North Fork Bridge in Jefferson County.

“The Wolf administration found a back door way of tolling bridges,” Thompson said. “They found language that said if they totally tear down a bridge and rebuild it, then they would be able to put tolls on it. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. I have concerns about the process,” he added.

Thompson said he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in PennDOT.

“PennDOT wants to move ahead despite not conducting studies on safety, traffic diversions, local impacts, anticipated revenue, and the duration of tolling contracts,” he said.

The congressman also said, “PennDOT should be taking its marching orders from the General Assembly and looking for an alternative.”

Thompson said implementing tolls would have a lasting negative impact.

“Trucks will be diverted to local roads which will endanger the public and increase maintenance costs on townships and boroughs,” he said.

Thompson said Pennsylvania needs to address its aging infrastructure but should “discover a reliable funding mechanism for repairs.”

He said the state collected nearly $3 billion in revenue in October.

“That was six percent more than what was anticipated,” Thompson said. “Pennsylvania is going to receive $18 billion from the federal infrastructure package that was just passed. That includes $1.6 billion for bridge replacement. Surely PennDOT could look at these funding streams beyond taxing the traveling public and our communities,” he added.

An informal toll taken during Wednesday’s telephone town hall found 95 percent of the participants opposed PennDOT’s tolling plan.

Thompson said he has submitted his concerns and opposition to the proposal.

“PennDOT should put its tolling plan in the rearview mirror and never look back,” Thompson said.