PENNSYLVANIA - Despite increasing traffic, most county residents avoid the turnpike, citing the cost.  On The Times's Facebook page, Thomas Wegman pointed to the increasing cost as a primary reason for not using the turnpike. He added that traffic congestion and construction contributed to the high costs. Daniel Collidge, a professional truck driver from Youngstown, Ohio, travels across Pennsylvania and transports automotive parts, and is also worried about rising costs.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Raising Rates Again

The reasons for the rate hike are complex. The Turnpike Commission needs to raise its rates to pay off its debt, and a five percent increase is too much, especially considering the state's economy is suffering. Its traffic figures are low compared to previous years, and the state's recent virus restrictions are a contributing factor.  The commission publishes traffic reports only through February 2020, so it's impossible to determine how much traffic will travel through the system in January. However, a decline in traffic could persist through the summer.

The increase has been widely anticipated since the toll increase in 2009.  However, the increase is not a sudden one. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is mandated to raise rates every three years for the next 15 years. The toll increase will cover both road projects and mass transit. Additionally, the Turnpike Commission will continue to issue debt against toll revenues, and it's already up to $15 billion.

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