Wynnewood, Lower Merion Township, PA -- On January 6, 2019, toll prices on the PA Turnpike were increased six percent from 2018's prices, according to officials from the PA Turnpike Commission.
Many Lower Merion and Narberth residents use the PA Turnpike daily to drive around the state. And while the PA Turnpike Commission said that the increase will be useful for highway safety, it could have a significant impact on local commuters' wallets in 2019.
Reports found on the Turnpike's website indicate it now costs $50.40 to drive from Neshaminy Falls to Warrendale when paying by cash instead of EZPass. In 2018 the same trip cost $47.55.
While E-Z Pass Rates are substantially lower than cash costs, they too have increased in 2019. The Neshaminy Falls to Warrendale trip now costs E-Z Pass travelers $36.20.
This marks the 11th consecutive year that toll prices have increased on the Turnpike. This highway is not only one of the most traveled highways in the state, but it's also one of the key roads that commuters throughout Lower Merion and Narberth use day in and day out.
According to the Turnpike Commission, the toll increase "is required to meet the PA Turnpike's legislatively mandated funding obligation to support the Commonwealth's public-transportation systems as well as to maintain and improve the 552-mile Turnpike."
Mark Compton, CEO of the PA Turnpike, said that the aging and deteriorating roads need safety updates to help make a better driving experience for travelers.
"Parts of our roadway are 78 years old, and we owe it to customers, who pay a premium to travel, to invest in our road and make safer, smoother and wider," said Compton. "This year about 84 percent of our $552 million capital budget is focused on renewing, rebuilding and widening our highway which carried more than 200 million vehicles last year."
Lowman S. Henry, Chairman, and CEO of the Lincoln Institute disagreed with the TPC's longterm plan in a column he wrote for the Delco Times.
Henry cited a radio interview Governor Tom Wolf gave where Wolf admitted that the annual toll hikes are "driving business away" from Pennsylvania.
Henry wrote that "turnpike travelers are paying for roads they might never drive on," and referenced a 2007 plan for the Turnpike Commission to toll Interstate 80 as a way to subsidize annual fund transfers to PennDOT.
He then explained that "the fault actually lies with the General Assembly and former Gov. Ed Rendell."
"Back in 2007 lawmakers passed Act 44," wrote Henry, "which mandated the transfer of $50 million per year in funding from the turnpike to the state's Department of Transportation."
Henry does support the Turnpike Commission's assessment of the highway's continued need for repair and upkeep, and he wrote: "the aging highway system has required significant capital expenditures to both maintain and upgrade the roadway."
The Turnpike Commission has reconstructed more than 140 miles of its system, with another 11 miles of roadway now being rebuilt and widened. There are plans for another 82 miles to also be rebuilt and widened.
Compton noted that the Turnpike has delivered more than $6 billion in toll-backed funding to PennDOT in the past decade due to Act 44, but pointed out that in 2022 the subsequent Act 89 -- passed in 2013 -- reduces the money paid to PennDOT from $450 million per year to $50 million per year.
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