– In a letter to PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian sent on March 24, a bipartisan group of legislators – Reps. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny), Anita Kulik (D-Allegheny), Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) and Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) – questioned the process and resolution the Public Private Partnership Board (P3) used to announce plans to toll nine Pennsylvania bridges.
On Nov. 12, 2020, the P3 board approved a vague resolution to fix “major” bridges in a “geographically balanced manner statewide.” In February, Gramian unveiled a list of nine bridges to be rehabilitated and tolled. Since the announcement, many questions and concerns have been raised about the specific bridges chosen, safety, timing of construction and tolling, and the economic impact. Gramian has not responded to the legislators’ correspondence.
“Although I was not in office when the P3 law was adopted, checks and balances were placed in the law to avoid the actions that Secretary Gramian has perpetrated,” Ortitay said. “The resolution did not list the specific bridges, did not specify the private entity, did not specify the improvements and did not specify the financial agreement to repay the entity. Furthermore, the board took action during a period between the General Election and the swearing-in of the new General Assembly. This prevented any legislative input.”
“With all due respect to PennDOT, this process of proposing to further tax our residents needs to be completely transparent,” Kulik said. “The residents of Pennsylvania deserve to have input into this matter, especially those who utilize that portion of I-79, and those communities that will be affected by increased traffic and road damage.”
“Openness and transparency are two hallmarks of good government and both have been absent in this process,” said Delozier, who have authored legislation that would reform the P3 law by improving the degree of clarity and legislative oversight. “This proposal is asking taxpayers to once again dig deeper into their wallets at a time when many of them are already struggling and we as legislators are unable to answer many of the questions they have because of what hasn’t been provided to us.”
"Government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around, which means working between the branches,” Lewis said. “The governor not responding to a simple request is deeply concerning. Nonetheless, the legislature will work to eliminate these ridiculous tolls and protect the needs of working Pennsylvanians."
The letter can be read here
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
The 45th Legislative District includes Kennedy, Kilbuck, Neville, Robinson, Scott and Stowe townships and the boroughs of Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Carnegie, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Pennsbury Village and Rosslyn Farms.
The 88th Legislative District in Cumberland County includes Lower Allen and Upper Allen townships and the boroughs of Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Shiremanstown and Wormleysburg.
The 105th Legislative District in Dauphin County includes Lower Paxton, South Hanover and West Hanover townships.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Representative Anita Kulik
45th Legislative District
Representative Sheryl Delozier
88th Legislative District
Representative Andrew Lewis
105th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick