PA Turnpike Toll increases in price


By Jeffrey Heng, Staff Reporter

On Jan. 8, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission raised the price for passing through the PA Turnpike toll by 5%. The average toll price rose from $1.70 to $1.80 for E-ZPass customers and from $4.10 to $4.40 for Toll by Plate customers.

Passed in 2007, PA Act 44 forced the PTC to raise the toll fee by 25% and increase the price annually ever since. The increased prices are to fund for the PTC’s obligation of meeting the $450 million transfer to the Commonwealth for state-wide transportation projects. Ongoing projects include capital improvements, such as widening the two-mile stretch from four to six lanes between the Valley Forge Service Plaza and the Valley Forge Interchange, mileposts 324 and 326, respectively. The project will take approximately $177 million and is expected to be completed by 2025. 

Officials consider the two-mile stretch the most widely-traveled section of the 360-mile turnpike. Math teacher Heather Bailey drives from Downingtown to Conestoga High School without using this highway.

“I do live very close to the turnpike, but I choose to go an alternate route,” Bailey said. “It takes me about 25 minutes.”

The reconstruction initiative is intended to create less congested traffic jams. Bailey drives on the turnpike during Christmas holiday to visit relatives, but uses it to a minimum otherwise.

“I imagine for the student population not really a big impact, but for some of the staff that live further away, it would reduce some of the traffic,” Bailey said.

Since the passage of Act 44, the PTC has transferred nearly $8 billion from toll-backed funds to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Pu feels that using funds from the increased toll to add new lanes would not be effective.

“It would be nice if all that money went to improving infrastructure or public transportation. I think it could be a lot more (lucrative) if they did other stuff,” Pu said.

Moving forward, though, the PTC plans to keep toll increases until 2050. Mark Compton, PTC CEO, hopes that funds to PennDOT will still provide an easy way to travel.

“While we are now essentially free from this onerous Act-44 commitment, we must continue to honor the debt-service obligations for 30 years. But a measure of relief is under way, and motorists can expect the level of increases to ease in a few years,” according to the PA Turnpike website.

Jeffrey Heng can be reached at [email protected].