A Pennsylvania judge on May 18 issued a temporary injunction, halting the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s plans to toll nine Interstate bridges.
Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler said PennDOT must stop all studies, right-of-way acquisitions, construction or work under any contracts, and put off any planned hearings, meetings or spending.
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, of which NATSO is a founding member, quickly issued a public statement: “The Wolf Administration’s plan for imposing new tolls on existing bridges has always been a terrible deal for commuters, businesses and local communities. The court’s decision today suggests the process by which state officials implemented the plan was just as bad. This temporary injunction is a win for the people of Pennsylvania. Rather than trying to press forward, the Wolf Administration should take this opportunity to abandon its ill-advised and fiscally irresponsible plan and instead work with legislators to develop a better alternative.”
PennDOT could appeal the injunction to the State Supreme Court.
PennDOT is seeking to implement tolls on bridges in nine counties that carry Interstates 78, 79, 80, 81, 83 and 95. ATFI and NATSO oppose the bridge tolls. Cumberland County (home of the I-83 bridge) partnered with seven municipalities to sue PennDOT over the tolls.
On May 17, 2022, ATIF filed public comments regarding the Environmental Assessment for two bridge tolling projects in Pennsylvania. The state had open public comment periods for most of the bridges.
U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, who has been a vocal opponent of the bridge tolls, issued a statement May 18 saying, “PennDOT has been executing contracts and entering into agreements, which is dishonest and wrong. Thanks to the Commonwealth Court, PennDOT is finally being held accountable and required to follow the law. I hope this serves as a warning to those within the agency who think the public is not watching.”
ATFI testified at a field hearing in 2021 hosted by Congressman Thompson and members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in Clarion, Pennsylvania, to examine PennDOT’s P3 Major Bridge Tolling Proposals.
In 2021, NATSO member Onvo submitted a letter to the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee opposing the bridge tolls in advance of a Committee hearing.
In its letter, Onvo said, “It cannot be overstated how negatively PennDOT’s Major Bridge P-3 program would hurt our company.” If PennDOT implements the bridge tolls, Onvo estimates that business will decline as much as 50 percent or more as customers divert onto non-tolled routes.
NATSO will continue to engage in opposing the Pennsylvania Bridge tolls.
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