HARRISBURG, Pa - Pennsylvania Senate Bill 382 looks to hold off on plans to toll nine of the state's interstate bridges, including I-78's Lenhartsville span in Berks County.
"I was called into a meeting the other day with the chamber of commerce and with trucking companies from Reading, asking why they would be punished to get to their markets when any business east of the Lenhartsville bridge wouldn't have to pay the same tolls," state Sen. Bob Mensch, a Republican who represents parts of Berks, Bucks, and Montgomery counties, said during a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday.
Mensch said he also believes PennDOT's toll plan could draw a hard line between businesses, depending on geography and travel routes, as well increase the cost of goods and force truckers to find alternate routes through neighborhoods.
"Are we creating winners and losers with the way that we're tolling the bridges? I think that we are," Mensch said. "Any truck coming from the west to the east will be paying an additional tax. Call it a toll."
There were also no guarantees that would lock in toll money for infrastructure improvement, preventing the money from making its way into the general fund. Lawmakers now look to evaluate all these issues.
"I believe we need to sit at the table and talk about this together," Mensch said, "and come up with a much better funding solution than what we have."