Langerholc Reaches Compromise to End Bridge Tolling

HARRISBURG – The Senate of Pennsylvania unanimously passed legislation today led by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, to stop the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) from imposing new tolls on existing bridges with a Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3).

“Bipartisan compromise was reached on my Senate Bill 382 to save over 550,000 daily motorists from paying a new toll on major bridges that drive local economies,” said Langerholc. “As elected leaders, our duty to this Commonwealth will require tremendous action to preserve our freeways for future generations.”

Langerholc was appointed chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in January 2021, and the committee’s first public hearing was on PennDOT’s P3 bridge tolling initiative. In February 2021, Langerholc introduced Senate Bill 382 to reform the P3 statute and end PennDOT’s P3 bridge tolling initiative. Following the Senate’s passage of the bill in April 2021, Langerholc unveiled the DRIVE SMART Act in June 2021 to reform and invest in the Commonwealth’s transportation system. The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 382 in November 2021 and returned it to the Senate for concurrence.

Senate Bill 382, as amended, is agreed-to with Gov. Wolf, who previously intended to veto the bill. Following extensive negotiations, this legislation now includes the following:

  • Increases transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis and requiring PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution.
  • Incorporates public comments by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting.
  • Creates a checks-and-balance by reducing the scope of PennDOT’s power to optional user fees for new infrastructure and ensuring the General Assembly has more time to assess any transportation projects passed by the P3 Board.
  • Rescinds the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and limits the scope to the nine candidate bridges (instead of any major bridge in the State) without user fees.
  • Saves taxpayer dollars by allowing PennDOT to preserve the preliminary designs and engineering plans for the nine candidate bridges. 

“I had serious concerns with PennDOT’s authority to essentially tax and appropriate funds without additional oversight from the General Assembly,” said Langerholc. “At a time when the price of gas is hitting historic records under the Biden Administration, we had to stop PennDOT from adding more costs on Pennsylvania’s hardworking families.”

The compromise to the bill was reached following the Commonwealth Court’s two rulings against PennDOT’s oppressive overreach. The last order issued by the Commonwealth Court on June 30, 2022, voided the entire Major Bridge P3 Initiative.

Video: Sen. Langerholc speaks on Senate Bill 382.

 

Contact:

Nolan Ritchie, 717-787-5400

 

Senate Republican Leaders Applaud Court Ruling Halting Wolf’s Bridge Tolling Plan

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) and Senate Transportation Committee Chair Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) issued the following statement today following a Commonwealth Court ruling that blocks the Wolf Administration from moving forward with its bridge tolling plan:

“Today’s ruling is a victory for millions of Pennsylvania motorists who would have been impacted by Governor Wolf’s bridge tolling scheme. The new tolls would have taken more money out of the pockets of drivers at a time when families can least afford new financial burdens – all without being properly vetted or approved by the people’s elected representatives.

“For years, the Wolf Administration has repeatedly tried to exceed its authority and ignore the separation of powers in state government. We are thankful the Commonwealth Court prevented this plan from being implemented.

“Government functions best when all parties are involved in negotiating a final product together. We remain ready and willing to engage with Governor Wolf, our colleagues in the House, and all other stakeholders to discuss how we should fund our road and bridge projects moving forward.”

 

CONTACT:           Jason Thompson (Corman)

                                Erica Clayton Wright (Ward)

                                Gwenn Dando (Langerholc)

Langerholc: Major Bridge P3 Initiative Halted by Commonwealth Court

HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania today declared Gov. Tom Wolf’s Major Bridge P3 Initiative void ab initio.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, applauded the court’s decision, “Today’s decision is a win for all Pennsylvanians. A win for all those who stood with us fighting this oppressive overreach. And a win for Pennsylvania businesses who were arbitrarily shut out of the process.”

Langerholc held several hearings to better understand how PennDOT was authorized to move forward with few details and without approval from the General Assembly. Langerholc also sponsored Senate Bill 382, which would require the P3 process to be more transparent while stopping this current initiative.

This order voids the entire Major Bridge P3 Initiative, including the following bridges:

 

CONTACT: Nolan Ritchie

Langerholc Issues Statement on Increased Passenger Rail Service in Western Pennsylvania

JOHNSTOWN – Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, issued a statement today regarding the historic agreement to commence passenger rail improvements:

“Today’s agreement moves us one step closer to increased passenger service. This has been a top legislative priority of mine since being elected to the Senate and is the culmination of broad bipartisan work across many levels. The agreement will provide for the construction of upgraded rail lines, passenger platforms and other critical improvements. I look forward to the day in the very near future when Western Pennsylvanians will have additional trains.”

Today’s statement is in addition to Sen. Langerholc’s statement circulated on February 18, 2022, when he attended a press conference announcing the initial plans.

 

Contact: Nolan Ritchie

 

Senators Speak at Rally Opposing Bridge Tolling

HARRISBURG – Several Pennsylvania senators today joined members of the No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition to voice opposition to the Wolf administration’s plan to toll interstate bridges in Pennsylvania, beginning with the following nine bridges:

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) plan proposes tolling to pay for bridge projects and has received an overwhelming amount of disapproval, including members of the General Assembly, local officials, businesses and Pennsylvania residents.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, spoke at the rally. “It is never acceptable for the hardworking people of Pennsylvania to pay a new tax, fee or toll when gas prices are skyrocketing,” said Langerholc. “The court’s temporary halt reflects the bipartisan arguments in my DRIVE SMART Act, including Senate Bill 382. I will continue to call on Gov. Wolf and PennDOT to compromise with sensible solutions.”

PennDOT’s bridge tolling initiative would cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input nor approval.

“The process for adding tolls to interstate bridges was mired in a lack of transparency, citizen input and legislative oversight. It has been a sloppy, closed process that sets the precedent of more tolls in the future,” said Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21). “The cost to motorists, communities and employers is too great, as is the power claimed by PennDOT to implement and raise tolls on its own. There are other funding options for bridge maintenance and repairs. This process should be halted and replaced with one that is open and rational.”  

Langerholc, Robinson and Hutchinson co-sponsored Senate Bill 382, which reforms the P3 statute and voids PennDOT’s plan. However, Gov. Wolf has stated that he will veto the bill.

“Our roads and bridges absolutely need to be repaired. Thankfully, we already have the funding for these projects through the federal infrastructure bill,” said Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37). “Instead of soliciting hardworking Pennsylvanians, we must work together to allocate our available resources while being transparent, which is exactly what PennDOT failed to do.”

The Commonwealth Court sided with Cumberland County and several municipalities surrounding the I-83 candidate toll bridge that challenged the plan as unconstitutional and has temporarily halted PennDOT’s entire bridge tolling plan with a preliminary injunction.  The court also heard a different case from several municipalities in the southwest surrounding the I-79 candidate toll bridge.

VIDEO: Senators speak at rally opposing bridge tolling

CONTACT:

Nolan Ritchie (Langerholc)

Justin Leventry (Hutchinson)

Elizabeth Weitzel (Robinson)

 

Langerholc: Court Decision to Halt Bridge Tolling

HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania today granted a preliminary injunction which stops Gov. Tom Wolf’s Major Bridge P3 Initiative until further court action occurs.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, applauded the court’s order. “Today, the Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of halting PennDOT’s Major Bridge P3 Tolling Initiative. I have been challenging PennDOT’s overreach since being named Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in January 2021,” said Langerholc. “The court’s ruling on the preliminary injunction is restoring proper checks and balances on PennDOT’s power. I now urge Gov. Wolf to work with the legislature and find a compromise that is in the best interests of the Commonwealth.”

Sen. Langerholc held several hearings to better understand how PennDOT was authorized to move forward with few details and without approval from the General Assembly. Langerholc has also sponsored Senate Bill 382, which would require the P3 process to be more transparent, while stopping this current initiative.

This order halts PennDOT’s tolling of the following bridges:

CONTACT: Nolan Ritchie, nritchie@pasen.gov

Langerholc Issues Statement on Increased Passenger Rail Service in Western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh – Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, issued a statement regarding today’s announcement on the Commonwealth’s plans to invest in freight and passenger rail in Western Pennsylvania. 

“Today marks a historic milestone for the expansion of the Commonwealth’s multimodal transportation system.  This tremendous investment in the east-to-west freight corridor will enable an additional Amtrak train service from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg – a top priority of mine since being elected to the 35th Senate District.  Many years of advocacy, bipartisanship and compromise have finally resulted in more Amtrak trips to create jobs, revitalize communities and inspire outdoor activities.  I thank the collaborative leadership of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern for an impressive outcome that has been the goal of a vibrant constituency for increased passenger rail service in Western Pennsylvania.  Our work is not done, and I will continue to work diligently for more Amtrak investments, particularly from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to enhance multimodal connections throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

 

Contact:  Gwenn Dando (gdando@pasen.gov)

Langerholc Bill to Advance Highly Automated Vehicles Receives Bipartisan Support

Harrisburg – – Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, held a voting meeting today to consider Senate Bill 965 (Langerholc), which authorizes research institutions and companies to test and deploy Highly Automated Vehicles (HAV) in Pennsylvania.  The bill passed (12-2) with bipartisan support.

“Today’s bipartisan vote on this historic legislation builds-on the last five years of safely testing Highly Automated Vehicles in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Langerholc.  “As evidenced by my leadership to develop today’s comprehensive amendment, my door is always open to discuss the challenges and opportunities of this emerging industry.  I look forward to continuing the collaboration with Commonwealth agencies, stakeholders and constituents on this roadmap for Highly Automated Vehicles.”

Senate Bill 965 was introduced on January 5, 2022, at a bipartisan press conference in Pittsburgh.  After numerous discussions and meetings with stakeholders, the comprehensive amendment was drafted to address the following areas:

  • Codifies the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) HAV testing guidance,
  • Defines PennDOT’s regulatory processes to oversee the deployment phase,
  • Clarifies an HAV under the bill only applies to a firm, copartnership, association, corporation or research institution,
  • Requires a minimum of $1 million in insurance coverage; and
  • Studies the workforce impacts and mobility improvements for persons with disabilities.

The amendment was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.  The bill as amended now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Watch hearing

Contact:  Nolan Ritchie, nritchie@pasen.gov

Langerholc Introduces Legislation to Create a Roadmap for Highly Automated Vehicles

Pittsburgh—Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, introduced Senate Bill 965 today with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s(PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian, P.E., to create a roadmap for the testing and commercial deployment of Highly Automated Vehicles (HAV) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

“We dare to dream today.  We dare to stay ahead of the curve, to never settle for complacency,” said Senator Langerholc.  “We recognize the future, and it starts here and starts now – a future that will not leave Pennsylvania behind, but rather be the benchmark for the industry.  Today’s unveiling of this legislation takes the seed planted by these companies in good faith, and not far from here, and nourishes it.  I look forward to the growth and the fruit that it shall bear.” 

“We have an opportunity to make transportation safer, smarter, cleaner, more equitable and more efficient than ever,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian, P.E.  “PennDOT has been at the forefront and nationally recognized for our leadership on automated vehicles, and we’re excited to mark another milestone in that mission.  We applaud Senator Langerholc and our legislative partners for moving us forward.  We are confident through our partnership, we will have an updated state law that keeps safety as its focus while helping this technology evolve.”  

Senate Bill 965 authorizes the operation of HAVs with or without a driver onboard the vehicle.  The testing and commercial deployment of HAVs is limited to educational institutions and businesses specializing in the advancement of driverless technology.  This legislation maintains PennDOT’s role as the lead Commonwealth agency and leans on the Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee for continuous evaluation.  Senate Bill 965 also incorporates international standards from the Society of Automotive Engineers and best practices from 39 States that implemented legislation or executive orders centered around HAVs. 

Current law requires a licensed driver to be seated in the driver’s position at all times and to be in actual physical control of the vehicle.  Senate Bill 965 allows an HAV, owned by an educational institution or a business, to operate with a driver in the driver’s position, a driver in a remote location or exclusively by the Automated Driving System. 

Senate Bill 965 was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.

 

Contact:  Nolan Ritchie, nritchie@pasen.gov