HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — One final payment of $450 million was delivered by the PA Turnpike Commission on Wednesday, July 28, to PennDOT for transit systems around the state. The payment is the final one mandated by Act 44 of 2007, with a total of $7.9 billion in the last 15 years.
“Today we are making our last annual payment of $450 million to PennDOT,” PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said. “This marks our final major payment to PennDOT, but it also marks our next, unburdened, step into our financial future.
According to the press release, the payments have driven annual toll increases and deep cuts to Turnpike’s capital plan to rebuild and expand its aging system.
“Our $7.9 billion of payments over 15 years have supported highways, bridges, public transit services, and associated facilities that benefit Pennsylvanians in every county,” Compton said.
Now, following its final payment of $450 million, the PCT’s payment drops to $50 million at the end of this current fiscal year thanks to Act 89 of 2013. Instead, $450 million for transit will come from the state’s General Fund, a shift that will need to be discussed in the next state budget.
According to Bradley Heigel, PA Turnpike chief engineer, several critical projects have been deferred due to the Act 44 payments. Now, it plans to get back on track with its investments to completely rebuild and widen sections of its roadway.
“With about 200 million vehicles on our roadway each year, our greatest obligation is to ensure safe travel for our customers and keep this roadway in good working order,” Heigel explained. “While we regularly outpace national standards in safety, quality, and mobility, this became extremely challenging under the financial obligation mandated by Act 44 which caused us to defer adding new capacity including more lanes and new interchanges.”
When it comes to tolls, they will continue to increase for the foreseeable future, but the annual increases that are based on current traffic and revenue projections will be reduced by 3% by 2028.