By John Shumway


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MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — Oh, the guarantees of life, the swallows return to Capistrano, the buzzards to Hinkley, taxes come due April 15, salmon swim up stream, the ball drops in Times Square and Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls go up the first of January.

So why should this year be any different.

Turnpike spokesman Carl Defebo says, “So, overall, what we’re looking at is a 6 percent increase that was made across the board to all the toll rates, and then they are also rounded to the dime.”

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The Turnpike says it needs the money to pay its $450 million payment to PennDOT and for work on the turnpike.

“We’re going to be reinvesting about $552 million into our system. It is very expensive to operate and maintain and improve an aging toll road system, especially when you’re talking about 200 million vehicles a year that are driving on that system,” says Defabo.

To the average Turnpike user driving a private vehicle, Defabo says you “will see about a dime more on the short trip one exit for Class One passenger vehicle if you’re paying with EZ Pass. Now, if you’re a passenger vehicle driver, and you’re paying with cash, they’ll see about a 20 cent increase on that one exit commuter trip.”

So let’s say you’re commuting from Irwin to Monroeville, your cash trip will go from $2.10 now to $2.30 when the tolls going into effect on Sunday. For drivers using EZ Pass, that trip will go from $1.30 to $1.40.

A cross-state trip to Philly from Pittsburgh will now cost you $39.30 on Sunday or about $2.30 more if you pay cash, while EZ Pass drivers will pay $27.90, which amounts to about $1.60 more.

Truckers making the cross-state run will pay five to seven dollars more.

DeFabo says despite beliefs that higher tolls drive traffic off the Turnpike that has never been the case when the numbers are tallied. In fact, turnpike use continues to go up.