Turnpike tolls will rise on Sunday

Rate increase of 3 percent intended to help fund highways and transit

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Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will rise by 3 percent on Sunday, the second in a series of annual increases that are intended to help fund highways and transit systems statewide.

The increase, effective at 12:01 a.m., will cause the price of a trip from Pittsburgh (Monroeville) to Breezewood to rise from the current $8.15 to $8.40. A trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia will increase from the current $22.50 to $23.20.

The increase is part of Act 44, passed by the Legislature in 2007 to help solve a statewide transportation funding crisis. It calls for borrowing financed by turnpike tolls to help fund Pennsylvania Department of Transportation construction projects and mass transit agencies.

Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier issued a statement saying the increase "will allow PennDOT to boost infrastructure investment, improving highway smoothness and safety and ensuring the continued operation and enhancement of the state's public transit systems."

PennDOT has improved 980 miles of roadway and replaced 92 bridges with Act 44 funds thus far, the turnpike commission reported.

A major part of the Act 44 equation remains in question. In addition to higher turnpike tolls, the plan called for imposing tolls on Interstate 80, which has drawn opposition from legislators, business owners and others in the highway's corridor.

An application by PennDOT and the turnpike for permission to impose tolls on I-80 is pending with the Federal Highway Administration.

Sunday's increase also will be imposed on turnpike-operated Toll 60, Toll 66 and the Mon-Fayette Expressway. Tolls at the two mainline plazas on Toll 60, now redesignated as part of Interstate 376, will go up by 5 cents, as will the charge at the Toll 66 mainline plaza.

At the Mon-Fayette mainline plaza in Jefferson Hills, the charge also will rise by a nickel.

Tolls on the Findlay Connector near Pittsburgh International Airport will not increase.

Act 44 mandates annual toll increases, expected to be 3 percent or more each January, to meet the turnpike's funding obligations. The first increase, effective for this year, was 25 percent. Before that, tolls hadn't been raised since August 2004.

Full toll schedules for 2009 and 2010 are available at www.paturnpike.com.

Jon Schmitz can be reached at jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


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