After being side-lined by legal action filed over a plan to place tolls on some Pennsylvania highway bridges, including one on Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is resuming its environmental reviews for bridge replacement projects.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)
Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Commonwealth Court judges on June 30 decided municipalities challenging the plan to put tolls on eight interstate bridges in order to pay for their repair or replacement were right when they said Governor Tom Wolf’s administration and the Department of Transportation did not follow the law when studying and laying plans for tolling.

The ruling put the brakes on any further action by PennDOT and the Wolf administration concerning bridge repair and replacement, including continuing environmental studies.

In July, the General Assembly amended the Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership or MBP3 to take out the idea of tolling to pay for repairs.  PennDOT says it continues to study and evaluate alternative forms of funding to support the commonwealth’s transportation network.

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In a September 14 news release, PennDOT announced it has resumed the planning work and federal environmental reviews for six bridge replacement projects that are part of MBP2.

Transportation officials say since tolling is no longer in the equation, the projects are moving forward through the federal environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act with Categorical Exclusions or Reevaluations. PennDOT is documenting how each project would affect the surrounding community’s quality of life, including health, safety, cultural resources and environmental resources.  Comment forms are available on each project’s webpage.

PennDOT says it continues to study and evaluate alternative forms of funding to support the Commonwealth’s transportation network through its PennDOTPathways program.

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