– A group of members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly met today with local police who voiced concerns about safety if the Interstate 79 bridge near the Bridgeville exit in Allegheny County is tolled.
The meeting was organized by Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) and attended by
Rep. Anita Kulik (D-Allegheny), Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington), Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene), Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny/Washington) and staff from the office of Rep. Tim O’Neal. Leadership from the following police departments were present – Bridgeville, Canonsburg, Carnegie, Cecil, Collier, Oakdale, South Fayette and Upper St. Clair.
In February, at the governor’s direction, PennDOT unveiled plans to toll nine bridges throughout the Commonwealth, including the I-79 bridge. Since the announcement, many questions and concerns have been raised about the specific bridges chosen, safety issues, timing of construction and tolling, and economic impact.
“We need common sense to be injected into this plan,” Ortitay said. “Last fall, at the urging of local officials and myself, PennDOT committed to soon begin improvements on the Washington Pike between I-79 and the intersection with Chartiers and Church streets. The agency acknowledged the traffic and safety concerns there that need to be addressed. Less than six months later, PennDOT turns around and proposes to toll the interstate bridge near this project, which will only make the situation worse. It is human nature to look for alternative routes to avoid additional costs. Drivers will exit the interstate and make the traffic at this intersection and surround areas worse.”
“I represent the 45th Legislative District, primarily the Parkway West corridor and the airport corridor,” Kulik said. “The negative impact that this tolling will have on the economic health and the public safety in areas such as Scott and Carnegie must be considered before any final decision is made. I do not support this tolling. I think the negative impacts on our communities will be far too great to sustain any benefit we get from the toll.”
“A toll is a tax,” Mihalek said. “Our people cannot afford any more taxes after the year we just had. We should be focusing on helping our citizens get out of their debt, not creating more ways for them to suffer further.
“This proposal has been ill-conceived with no collaboration from community, business or first responders & would create an economic traffic and safety burden,” Bartolotta said.
“Traffic at the bottom of the Bridgeville exit is already overwhelming,” Robinson said. “Adding more vehicles to that bottleneck will be devastating to fire and EMS trying to respond to emergencies. This must be stopped for the safety of these communities.”
Southwestern Pennsylvania Delegation
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick