Those of you who drive on the turnpike know the cost of tolls are increasing every year. Despite that, though, the amount of debt being faced by the turnpike continues to rise. The State’s Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, now calling for a change.
DePasquale says, “When it comes to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this is probably about as bad of news as I could possibly give today.”
The latest audit from the auditor general finds the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission $11.8 billion in debt. And next year, the turnpike is on pace to have a higher debt than the entire state.
“And the idea that motorists and truckers are going to be able to pay that entire debt back is literally delusional.”
Much of the blame going to Act 44, a 2007 state law requiring the turnpike to make annual payments of $450 million to PennDOT for transit projects. It’s resulted in increasing tolls and mounting debt.
DePasquale says, “It just isn’t sustainable”.
And, things could be getting worse. A lawsuit has been filed, saying the state is violating federal law by using toll money to pay for non-turnpike projects.
It could result in the turnpike having to pay back the $6 billion it’s diverted to PennDOT, a scenario Turnpike Commission Chair Leslie Richards has called catastrophic.
The auditor general and Turnpike CEO Mark Compton calling on lawmakers to make changes to Act 44. Senate Transportation Committee Chair Kim Ward announcing this week that she’s forming a work group to draft legislation to stop those payments to PennDOT.
Compton says, “We look forward to working with them, to hopefully get the Turnpike out from under what you see here today.”