PennDOT plan to toll 9 bridges draws ire from Republican state lawmakers


HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Some state legislators want to put the brakes on a plan that would toll nine bridges around Pennsylvania, including the Girard Point Bridge, that carries 1-95 over the Delaware River into Philadelphia.

PennDOT announced the plan last month saying tolls could be collected with EZPass and the money used to make repairs.

But Republican State Sen. Wayne Langerholc, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, has introduced legislation that would give lawmakers more say in proposed tolls and would also scrap the plan to toll the bridges.

"We're not using this as a moment for rhetoric to say, 'No, we're opposed to this,'" he said. "There's a very dire need for funding for transportation."

State Sen. Bob Mensch, who represents parts of Bucks, Montgomery and Berks counties, said if the PennDOT wants to consider tolls, they need to bring the legislature into the discussion.

"That's equally our responsibility," he declared. "It's not the department's alone, it's not the administration's alone. It is ultimately the people we represent who will pay those tolls, so we have to be consulted and have a place at that table."

Mensch also pointed out that I-95 is an interstate highway, so federal approval would likely be needed.

Langerholc said this needs to be a springboard for real discussion about transportation funding and beyond, for example, dedicated funding for State Police so they don't take a chunk of PennDOT's revenue.

"You pay taxes because you want a good road to drive on, you want police-fire protection, you want good schools to send your kids to. Those are the core functions of government that we need to address. It's my hope we can use this as a moment to get back to that," he said.

This week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a bipartisan commission to look at funding solutions to phase out the gas tax.