Skip to comments.Pennsylvania Turnpike to become nation's costliest toll road
Posted on 07/17/2010 8:56:06 AM PDT by Willie Green
E-ZPass customers will get price break over those paying cash
A toll increase on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in January likely will make it the most expensive long toll road in the nation.
The turnpike commission on Wednesday approved a 3 percent increase for users of E-ZPass electronic fare collection and 10 percent for cash customers, effective Jan. 2.
That will raise the cash cost of driving the turnpike to 8.5 cents per mile, highest of the 11 U.S. toll roads of 100 miles or longer. Currently, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes are tied at 7.7 cents per mile.
Shorter toll facilities, including highway spurs and bridges, typically have higher per-mile costs. A March survey by the Pennsylvania Turnpike found 10 facilities with per-mile rates of 27.8 cents or more, including a 6-mile highway in California whose users pay 45.8 cents per mile.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike has ascended to the top among longer toll roads largely because of a 2007 state law requiring it to help fund non-turnpike transportation programs. Since then, the turnpike has given the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation $2.5 billion to pay for highway and bridge work and mass transit.
That amount is the equivalent of more than three years' worth of turnpike toll income. The turnpike took in $700 million last year.
The law, Act 44, envisioned a stream of revenue from higher turnpike tolls and new tolls on Interstate 80 flowing from the commission to PennDOT.
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
Higher than that one in Florida? I don’t remember the name or number of the road.
The one in FL might not be 100 miles long.
“Shorter toll facilities, including highway spurs and bridges, typically have higher per-mile costs. A March survey by the Pennsylvania Turnpike found 10 facilities with per-mile rates of 27.8 cents or more, including a 6-mile highway in California whose users pay 45.8 cents per mile.”
I paid about $1/mile in Colorado on the E470 toll a few months ago. I was only on the road 1 mile in each direction. Perhaps they charge more for very short uses of the road.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the Helen Thomas of the interstate highway system.
They ARE working on it. It is the oldest Interstate in the US, and they have NEVER stopped working on it.
I am convinced that is actually a PA jobs program.
The irony, of course, is that the higher tolls were imposed to subsidize the sort of mass transit projects which tickle your toes so; and yet, with artificially high tolls and artificially low mass transit fares, free people still choose to drive their own cars.
Oh, I remember well those trips from New Jersey to Detroit in the 60’s going through those tunnels on the PA turnpike. Blue Mountain, Kittatinny Mtn, Ray’s Hill....and those colonial flavored Howard Johnsons with the worst food imaginable. And yes, toll booths very often! And they weren’t cheap, they were a few bucks a crack IIRC when a few bucks was actual money. I guess, with my Dad paying the tolls, it seemed like a model of efficient, modern, open-road driving. With me paying the tolls, it’d probably create a different impression. All those tunnels on the original route are abandoned now, they were cheaper to bypass than to enlarge. Perhaps that’s the story of *all* of our arteries?
The beauty of the turnpike is that you don’t have to take the turnpike to get where you want to go. There are others roads that get you to the destination.
With either gasoline taxes or tolls, users of roads pay for the roads. Nothing new, except for questions about how efficiently, or not, the PA Turnpike Authority does its job.
One could also ask how much the politicians demand that the Turnpike Authority pad its payrolls or add “construction” projects without merit.
Other than that, I have no problem with toll roads, in general. At least, in concept, the toll is specific to the user.
“Higher than that one in Florida? I dont remember the name or number of the road.”
I don’t know about the one in FLA. I do know that all of this is a waste of money though. The PA turnpike is probably one of the worst roads out there. It’s in a constant state of mess. For those my age, it is like playing a real live version of Moon Patrol (early 80s video game).
Fortunately, there is a sunset clause on these tax/toll increases. I think they are all supposed to expire in 1970 or something ... I wouldn’t worry too much about that. ;-).
Ya gotta love the “Slow Down, My Mommy Works Here” sign.
This would have been my guess as top toll fee road. Used it several years ago, going from I25 NE to I40 to bypass the horrible Denver traffic. Seems every couple miles there was another tool booth and another $ toll.
No - yet another reason to avoid Pennsyltucky and drive through Maryland...
Pennsylvania got screwed with I-80. It was built with federal money, but the state was mandated to maintain it. Back in the late 70's, under Governor Milton Shapp, it started to deteriorate badly and the state practically went bankrupt rebuilding it. It was a very hot political issue, and it ruined Shapp, who wanted to make it a toll road then.
So, Interstates 68, 70, 78, 79, 80 and 81 and some good state highways might see some additional traffic, from those that can, and chose to, avoid the turnpike or some part of it that they might otherwise have used - if the diversion is worth any toll-cost savings.
It is also one of the worst maintained.
Having just driven the length of it, the road is in excellent condition, when you enter Ohio the road and scenery immediately drops about 10 notches.
That said, the article explains the tolls are 3 times the actual cost of the road.
Oh, but the costs are justified.
There are never any traffic jams, there’s never any construction, and the road surface is as smooth as glass. Not.
As bad as the Turnpike is, it’s still better than taking the train.
I don’t have to hope for a spot in an overcrowded parking lot and I don’t have to worry about my car being stolen or vandalized while it’s there. Overnight parking? Nope. Can I carry anything large or heavy on the train? Nope.
In my car, I can go anywhere in the state. Can’t do that on a train, and I never could, not even in the “good ol’ daze”.
You can never borrow enough money from our descendants to upgrade rail service sufficient to give me the mobility and convenience that a car gives me.
No Willie, those rail systems NEVER turn a profit. Why create them? And as for toll roads, states raid their gas tax funds for their pet projects, then come running to us to replace those funds.
Not no, but HELL NO!
I visited Florida a few years back. There you run into another toll road ever few miles. Going across and down the state may make you hit four to six toll booths.
What a fricken rip off.
How come Maryland charges $1.50 monthly fee for an EZPass and there is no charge for a TollTag in Texas?
When my dad was little, they would drive up to near the turnpike, and watch the cars go by! This was in the 1940s, and I guess it was cheap entertainment...
Used to go to Atlantic City from the Burgh.
No Willie, those rail systems NEVER turn a profit. Why create them?
Public Infrastructure isn't supposed to turn a profit, Ron.
Our airways and airports don't "turn a profit."
Our highways and roadways don't "turn a profit."
Our rivers, canals and waterways don't "turn a profit."
So why act like a silly libertarian and insist that passenger rail systems "turn a profit?"
Remember in NOvember to take out the trash!!!
this is the third raise in fees since Jan. 2009 and there will be an ANNUAL RAISE from here on.............
But no annual raise in our income...sad days for this country.
Yes but they turn a federal highway into a toll road. You already pay federal taxes, you pay federal gas taxes, you’ve already paid to use the federal road.
Lately, I have the same opinion about flying. Flying has the same disadvantages that rail has, but it is much faster. But with security, airport locations, getting transportation at the destination, and lack of flexibility in changing flights, many of the speed advantages are eliminated.
If I am going to a city for a day trip and it is less than 5 hours away, I will still drive than fly.
Because unlike the other modes of transportation they are flexible, can be rerouted easily, and do not have to interfere with other transportation systems. The land grants that have to be acquired, rights to use track, upgrading track, the extreme costs for expansion and adding stops, and then for the billions spent the ALWAYS low ridership numbers, the extreme subsidization that is required per rider...
do we really need to continue? Trains are outdated, 19th century modes of transportation, you can’t carry crap with you, you can’t leave when you want, you still need cars or something else to get to your final destination, and can’t reroute themselves when problems occur.
Why people have love affairs with such systems is beyond me. Too much Logan’s Run as a kid.
Spare me Willie. You and I both know the Turnpike is infested with overpaid employee’s and nepotism. Not to mention PennDOT who regularly has half the damn lanes shut down. PA’s state flower (the orange safety barrels) are always blooming on the turnpike. Maybe they should PRIVATIZE it all.
Easy killer. PA is beautiful state with tons of good people. Our biggest problem is the elderly voters and shenanigans in Harrisburg and Philly (yes, Allegheny is in the mix too). Watch PA in November.
Because unlike the other modes of transportation they are flexible, can be rerouted easily, and do not have to interfere with other transportation systems. The land grants that have to be acquired, rights to use track, upgrading track, the extreme costs for expansion
You can "easily reroute" a river, highway or airport without having to acquire land?
So what brand of pixie dust do you use for that???
Another toll ‘benefit’ is that you are forced to use the toll rest areas, because there are so few exits and it costs too much to exit and re enter. The toll plazas have McDonalds that are more expensive than regular McD’s and they don’t take coupons. The Popeyes is also more expensive, with no discounts. Everything is overpriced compared to the exact same product off the tollway.
You can turn a boat around or go to a different port or dock. You can reroute a plane and land somewhere else. You can take any of a thousand different roads if the one you wer going to take has problems.
I think you’re the one on drugs being for such high cost, high subsidy, low ridership fixed path transportation systems. If not, you’re extremely ignorant. People want to be in control of where and how they get to places. They want to be able to haul things with them when necessary. When they want to go somewhere, they want to actually get there, not be dropped off a mile or two away and then have to make their way there.
You might see the romance in all of this but most others do not. Not at the price tags to build and subsidize the extremely poor ridership numbers that are always inflated.
And were a Commonwealth, not a state.
“The one in FL might not be 100 miles long.”
No we have some long roads from the keys to the tip of the pan handle is a long ways the turnpike is in the upper 400’s in length.
Well, I can sympathize with you on the sentiment. However, I’m not overly sure that all of Penn is ‘shithole’....maybe just the eastern seaboard part, the ‘urban’ areas and other places like that bastion of academic fraud, Penn State (ala Michael Mann - I’d have said professor but that’s just a bullshit lie). Western Penn may be quite nice and not so ‘shithole’ I don’t know....
They should make an effort to clean up the plazas also.
“Highway tolls... another good reason to upgrade passenger rail service across Pennsylvania!”
BS, just a reason to stay out of that socialist sinkhole.
People ov Penn: get smart.
Highways shouldn’t necessarily turn a profit, but gas tax dollars should pay to keep them up. If those funds aren’t raided, the gas taxes will support the infrastructure.
I know that freeways and roads cost lots of money, but the outlay is spread over decades, not a cash payout within thirty days of completion. Bonds are floated, and they are serviced with gas tax dollars, or should be.
Airports do have income. They collect a considerable fortune from parking, hub access, direct ticket taxation, security assessments per ticket etc. Once again, infrastructure fees are spread out over decades, using the same bond process.
As for our rivers, what fees do the state or federal governments have to pay out for them? They are a natural resource. Canals do charge fees for passage. Boat licensure and property taxes associated with those boats reap a fortune for the states.
If we use your model for continual rail subsidy on all routes regardless of the feasibility of sound profits, why not expand to other businesses as well?
It’s in the public interest to have as wide a variety of restaurants too. Should we keep them open if they’re not turning a profit? How about super-markets, certainly an important public service in the interest of the public being well fed. Should we keep them open, if they can’t turn a profit? I could come up with a long list of concerns that are advantageous to the public, that we should keep open regardless of profit. Should we?
I’m not approaching this from a Libertarian point of view, although Libertarians may agree with me. I’m approaching it from a sound fiscal stance. If something is so damned important, or integral to the public, the public will pay the freight when it comes to keeping the concerns going.
If the public won’t pay the freight to keep the concerns going, then the concerns should be abandoned.
We should not have funds stolen from us, to keep unprofitable concerns open.
For non-bridge/tunnel my guess is the toll on I-95 in Delaware. If my memory is right its around $5 for a I think what is 5 miles of road.
Why is it, do you think, that privately maintained infrastructure can make a profit but socially mainted infrastructure cannot?
The government could tax passenger train tickets to subsidize the cost of maintaining roads. After all, "Other People's Money (OPM)" works so well for railroad welfare. It should work just as well in reverse.
Where's my pie, Willie?