If you were planning to go from New Jersey to Pennsylvania this weekend, you must keep in mind that the PA Turnpike will have tolls increased by 6% this Sunday. This raise will become common in the next few years as state officials plan to make this a yearly plan until 2044, with increases ranging from 3% to 6% annually.
Fortunately, the turnpike tolling plaza will become cashless after this 2nd of January’s midnight. After that point, a camera will snap a picture of your license plate and send the bill to your home. Hopefully, this will provide a constant flow in traffic, without any bustles at tolling points.
The toll-by-plate program is the first of its kind, being conducted at the Delaware bridge, and is part of a larger $1.4 billion dollar plan to connect Interstate 95 to the turnpike, according to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Bills will arrive in your mail starting with the 25th of January.
Bearing in mind that this new method of tolling takes around 8 hours to implement, drivers are advised to exercise patience between 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, because small detours and delays will be implemented so that the process of switching to a cashless tolling plaza is as smooth as possible.
In regards to the 6% increase, it is not yet clear for drivers how this move will affect their income. Truck drivers are skeptical as well, not knowing how their businesses will take into account this price hike. The monetary funds gained through this move will be used by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission towards widening and reconstructing the turnpike. Given that traffic has become more or less a problem, especially during the holiday season, a better turnpike will more than likely facilitate a better traffic flow.
But this is not the only section which will receive additional funds. The commission has to pay on an annual basis over $400 million in loan repayments, making this increase more of an obligation, instead of a willing decision.
Either way, prices will increase for all drivers, be they passenger car drivers or truck drivers. People that have the E-ZPass service will still receive the benefit of having a 35% discount.
The general public may be willing to pay the 6% increased tolls without a massive amount of complaints if the commission will improve road condition and remove traffic congestion. But the process of improving the turnpike through widening will take a rather large amount of time, to say the least, making benefits gained from a toll increase arrive much later than once thought.
Because the PA Turnpike will have tolls increased by 6% this Sunday, the cost of going from Exit 57 Pittsburgh to the East Exit 247 Harrisburg will reach $23.75 on average, in comparison to Saturday’s $22.40 toll price. Although the added 65 cents are not something to write home about, these increases will grow more and more with each passing year. If improvements will get postponed while toll prices increase, the public backlash may become rather large to say the least.