HARRISBURG — Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny), who has spearheaded the fight against PennDOT’s ill-fated, nine-bridge tolling plan, today expressed satisfaction in PennDOT’s decision to not appeal a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruling that found the agency has no authority to toll the bridges.
Almost a year ago, Bridgeville Borough and South Fayette and Collier townships filed a lawsuit against PennDOT arguing the tolling plan, and more specifically the proposal for the I-79 bridge in Bridgeville, violated the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) law, which requires certain steps be taken before the P3 Board can vote to implement bridge tolling.
“I’m relieved that PennDOT and the Wolf administration finally saw the light and stopped overstepping their authority,” Ortitay said. “Just two weeks ago, PennDOT tried to get the municipalities to sign a settlement agreement in order to save face. I hope it has learned a lesson about the importance of following the letter of the law.
“Thank you to the local elected officials who brought this lawsuit and a similar one in central Pennsylvania. I would especially like to recognize South Fayette Township; Gwen Rodi, president of the board of commissioners; Robert Garvin, South Fayette’s solicitor; and John Smith and Jennifer Schiavoni of Smith Butz.
“If PennDOT had listened to our concerns from the start, we could have saved a lot of time, money and energy. Once again, the Wolf administration acted as a king and refused to work together with the General Assembly. As I have said from the start, it is time for representatives of the executive branch to sit down with legislators to come up with a comprehensive plan that addresses transportation needs without creating an undue burden on the Commonwealth’s residents.
“I am glad we can finally put this tolling plan to bed. Now is the time to move forward. With the recent enactment of Act 84 of 2022
, we have a framework to proceed.”
In November 2020, the P3 Board voted to toll interstate bridges it planned to repair or replace but did not name the specific ones. Three months later, in February 2021, PennDOT announced the list at the governor’s direction. According to Act 88 of 2012, the board must assess each project’s scope, framework and impact on citizens and do a cost/benefit analysis before approving a project. Bridgeville Borough and South Fayette and Collier townships filed suit in November 2021 demanding PennDOT be stopped as it violated this law as the board did not do its assessment. Earlier this year, attorneys for the three municipalities assisted Cumberland County and several municipalities in southcentral Pennsylvania to file a similar lawsuit related to the Interstate 83 bridge in Harrisburg. In March 2022, PennDOT hired a foreign company to be the lead contractor on the tolling projects. On May 18, Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler issued a preliminary injunction in the Cumberland County suit ordering PennDOT to stop all work on its tolling plan until the entire court could rule. On June 30, the Commonwealth Court unanimously ruled that PennDOT violated the law with its tolling scheme.
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.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick