READING, Pa. — Berks County Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach reported Thursday that he recently told PennDOT representatives that he will actively oppose any efforts to toll Interstate 78's Lenhartsville bridge.
A recent state plan proposed to toll nine major bridges across Pennsylvania, with I-78's bridge over Route 143 and Maiden Creek in Greenwich Township being one of them.
"I do not support tolling I-78 as long as the current gasoline tax is kept in place," Leinbach said.
Leinbach said state gas tax revenues have declined because of hybrid fuel-efficient vehicles, as well as having more electric vehicles on the road.
"Tolling concerns me," he said. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the most expensive toll road in America. The state needs to address the underlying issue that the gas tax is the wrong way to raise revenue."
Leinbach said PennDOT agrees that the right way to do it would be to have vehicle owners pay a tax based on the size and weight of the vehicle.
"But it's easy to say and not easy to do," he added. "The gas tax system disproportionately affects the lower working class, as they are the most least likely to be able to afford an electric or hybrid vehicle, and they tend to drive older vehicles that are less fuel efficient."
Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian has said the tolls are necessary because PennDOT has less than half the cash it needs to keep the state's highways and bridges in good condition and ease major traffic bottlenecks.