BRIDGEVILLE – Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today called on PennDOT to abandon its plans to toll the Interstate 79 bridge near the Bridgeville exit as it will discourage the visitation and recognition of our deceased veterans at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.
In February, PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian unveiled plans to toll nine bridges throughout the Commonwealth, including the I-79 bridge. Since the announcement, many questions and concerns have been raised about the specific bridges chosen, safety, timing of construction and tolling, and the economic impact.
“The National Cemetery of the Alleghenies is hallowed ground where our veterans from western Pennsylvania are laid to rest,” Ortitay said. “It hosts Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Wreaths Across America ceremonies annually, which can draw thousands of people. This is in addition to the average of seven internments daily and many who visit their loved ones on a regular basis. Anyone who lives north of the cemetery would incur extra costs or travel time to pay tribute to our veterans or visit a loved one if the bridge is tolled. We should be encouraging visits to the cemetery, not erecting barriers.
“Secretary Gramian and PennDOT have targeted this area of I-79 as a “moneygrab” to fund projects all over the state instead of working with the legislature” Ortitay added. “Each day, it becomes more and more obvious that Secretary Gramian and the P3 board did not do any due diligence or study the impact this disastrous tolling proposal would have on our local community. I can’t believe the secretary would want to toll this area knowing its proximity to the National Cemetery. Once again, I call on Secretary Gramian to abandon this proposal immediately before it does any more irreparable damage.”
According to cemetery information, the facility hosts:
• An average of seven internments daily.
• Monthly moments of remembrance.
• Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Ceremony.
• Memorial Day Ceremony.
• Veterans Day Ceremony.
• Wreaths Across America Ceremony.
• Several bike runs and local ceremonies such as Operation Troop Appreciation, American Legion Post 380 – Wounded Warrior Project and veterans rides.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick