Pa. Turnpike panel seeks to cut back its $450 million annual toll to the state

The cost of crossing the state on the Pennsylvania Turnpike could hit $50 in the coming decade — and $150 by 2057 — unless the state changes a funding formula.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale delivered the bad news to state lawmakers as they consider a $2.5 billion transportation funding plan.

The state Turnpike Commission is asked to collect $450 million for the state each year. But that number was set when the state has plans to collect tolls on Interstate 80 — a plan vetoed by the federal government — so the turnpike has gone into debt to deliver the money the state counts on for transportation projects.

It’s state debt by proxy, said DePasquale.

“The turnpike is obligated to make $450 million worth of payments to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for various road and transportation projects … with no revenue to pay for it,” he said.

DePasquale is urging a new funding stream to replace the turnpike contribution in the transportation budget under consideration in Harrisburg.

“What the Legislature needs to do, as far as of any transportation bill, is they need to phase out the debt payments,” he said.

He estimates that, if the current system remains in place, motorists could be paying $150 to cross the state by 2057. Currently, the 357-mile trip from the Delaware River Bridge to the Ohio Turnpike connectioncosts $39.15.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal