— Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today issued the following statement regarding PennDOT’s most recent egregious behavior related its Public Private Partnership (P3) tolling plan:
“Last week, a Commonwealth Court judge held a hearing on a preliminary injunction requested by Cumberland County and several municipalities against PennDOT in regards to the P3 tolling plan. During the hearing, PennDOT explained that it was in the process of executing the first contract associated with the P3 tolling process. Agency representatives testified that this was being done without input or approval of the P3 board and that the board did not approve any project agreements. These PennDOT officials also explained that the P3 contracts contain provisions that subject PennDOT to the possibility of paying millions of dollars to the selected foreign development entity if the tolling project does not happen as contemplated. When questioned by Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler if PennDOT would agree to wait to execute the contract until litigation on tolling was settled, it brazenly refused.
“South Fayette Township, Collier Township and Bridgeville in the 46th Legislative District filed a lawsuit last November to stop the tolling proposal. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for May 18 before the full Commonwealth Court. The fact that PennDOT is trying to rush this contract shows how worried it is about losing this lawsuit in court. If it would have followed the proper procedures, which are written into the P3 law, we would not be in this situation today. Ultimately, whether PennDOT acted legally or not will be decided by the courts.
“I am calling on PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian to put a halt to this contract until after a decision is rendered in Commonwealth Court. This includes removing the grossly negligent language that would result in millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted and paid to a foreign entity even if the bridges are never constructed or tolled. PennDOT is purposely putting taxpayer dollars at risk due to its impatience and desire to skirt the law, and it must be stopped.”
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.