PennDOT announces plans for tolls on I-79 bridge south of Pittsburgh

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(PennDOT) announced plans Thursday to replace nine interstate bridges across the state and pay for it by adding tolls to the bridges.

One of the bridges proposed for the tolls is the Interstate 79 span over State Route 50 in Bridgeville.

That section of I-79 is traveled by many West Virginians heading to Pittsburgh. The eight other bridges listed in the proposal are on I-78, I-80, I-81, I-83 and I-95 in other regions of Pennsylvania.

The proposal is part of PennDOT’s Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative.

“Our reliance on funding models from the last century leaves us especially vulnerable to fund losses stemming from volatile economic conditions and the increasing transition to alternative-fuel or electric vehicles,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “This initiative will help us make much-needed improvements without compromising the routine projects our communities and industry partners rely on.”

Tolling would be all electronic and collected by using E-ZPass or license plate billing. The funds received from the toll would go back to the bridge where the toll is collected to pay for the construction, maintenance and operation of that bridge, according to a news release.

Mountain State drivers can also get an E-ZPass from the West Virginia Parkways Authority and use it in Pennsylvania and other states.

No details have been released on how much the tolls would be.

Over the next year, PennDOT will evaluate these candidate bridges through individual environmental documents being prepared or re-evaluated for each bridge, officials said.

The proposed Bridgeville project will replace the northbound and southbound bridges on I-79 mainline over SR-50, which were built in 1965 and last rehabilitated in 1998. The project also includes widening I-79 from two to three lanes in each direction and extending from Alpine Road north beyond SR-50 and Chartiers Creek to just before the Collier interchange and Prestley Road in Bridgeville, Allegheny County. The I-79 corridor carries an average of 87,000 vehicles daily, approximately 12 percent of which is truck traffic, according to PennDOT officials.

Construction could begin as early as 2023.

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