Pennsylvania bills offer toll relief for port-bound trucks, limit toll roads
August 5, 2019
Tolls are the topic of multiple bills under review at the Pennsylvania statehouse.
One effort underway is intended to reimburse Pennsylvania-based companies for tolls when transporting goods to and from Pennsylvania port facilities along the turnpike.
“Due to tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike – and the lack of tolls on highways like I-80 and I-83 – our port facilities are losing market share to New York/New Jersey and Baltimore,” wrote Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, in a memo to Senate lawmakers. “As a result, Pennsylvania and its taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the ports of Baltimore and New York/New Jersey.
“Companies need to use PhilaPort but are having to pay hundreds of dollars in tolls each run to and from the port.
Tartaglione added that the losses in activity, or increases in costs, all translate to a negative impact on the state’s residents and economy.
Data provided by sponsors of the House version of the bill shows an analysis by PhilaPort that shippers using the Port of New York/New Jersey achieved an annual cost savings of $167,000 compared to Philadelphia. The Port of Baltimore realized a savings of $500,000 annually.
“Whether importing raw material like wood pulp or coffee or exporting to important world markets, companies need to use PhilaPort but are having to pay hundreds of dollars in tolls each run to and from the port,” wrote Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia.
The Senate and House versions of the bill, SB612 and HB905, are in their respective chamber’s transportation committee.
A bill introduced in the House covers concern about toll roads in the state.
Sponsored by Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, the bill would require legislative approval for toll road conversion.
“In an effort to better protect (constituents) interests and ensure that their input is taken into consideration, I am introducing legislation that would require the General Assembly’s approval before any existing and free roadway can be converted into a toll road,” Neilson wrote to House lawmakers.
He urged fellow state Representatives to join him by taking “a more active role in the conversations surrounding the transportation issues that affect the day-to-day lives of our constituents.”
Neilson’s bill, HB1720, is in the House Transportation Committee.