— Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll nine bridges across the state, including the I-79 bridge near the Bridgeville exit:
“I am stunned in the midst of the pandemic and on a day most of the Commonwealth has been hit by winter weather, Gov. Tom Wolf would unveil his plan to toll nine bridges across the state, including one in the 46th Legislative District, in the hopes that no one would notice. At a time when people can ill-afford additional costs, fees and tax increases, Gov. Wolf once again proves his reckless proposals are devoid of reality and completely ignores the consequences and damage this would cause to the area.
“This bridge is in the fastest growing portion of Allegheny County. Tolling it would devastate the economic growth that has begun to take hold. There’s a lot of exciting new growth going on in this area with hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that will bring jobs and new venues. Even PennDOT took notice and agreed last fall to improve Washington Pike between Interstate 79 and the intersection with Chartiers and Church streets. All of this will be for naught. No longer will people be drawn to the area to work, shop and recreate, and we could see the loss of interest from businesses and the loss of millions, if not billions in investment. For years, I have worked hard with our local elected officials to grow and improve this area, and now when we are on the cusp of turning the corner, the Wolf administration wants to put all of that into jeopardy over an ill-conceived plan. I adamantly oppose this funding proposal and will do everything I can to prevent the tolling from happening.
“While I certainly support rehabilitation of this bridge and the additional improvements as almost 90,000 vehicles a day travel through this area, we must find an alternative way to fund this project. To add insult to injury, the tolling is proposed to start in 2023 before construction can even begin. People will be paying for the privilege to travel through a construction zone. I am already working with our representatives in Congress and in the General Assembly to find other funding sources for this interstate project.”