Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Whopping Debt of $13.2B Responsible for Constantly Growing Toll Prices

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Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s whopping debt of $13.2 billion is putting a heavy burden on turnpike users who have to deal with continuous increases in toll prices, writes Eileen Anderson for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Turnpike’s debt, which is higher than Pennsylvania’s total debt of $11 billion, was revealed by Auditor General Timothy DeFoor in early September. DeFoor, who performed an audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, made several legislative recommendations on how to deal with this issue.

He proposed to eliminate or reduce the turnpike commission’s $50 million annual payment to PennDOT, which would shift the burden away from travelers. He cited these payments as the key driver for the commission’s debt and subsequent toll increases that make the turnpike the most expensive toll road in the United States.

The payments were instituted by Act 44 of 2007, during Governor Ed Rendell’s administration. A default clause in the act required the commission to pay $450 million annually to PennDOT for highways, bridges, and public transit. To make the payments, the turnpike commission was forced to borrow and increase tolls. As a result, drivers have seen toll increases each year since 2007.

Read more about the Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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