BRIDGEVILLE, PA (KDKA) – A proposal to toll Interstate 79 is scoring poorly in southern Allegheny County.
PennDOT says additional revenue will be required to widen the roadway, but the people of Bridgeville are absolutely against it. They say drivers who avoid tolls on Interstate 79 will clog the roads and the project won’t do what it intended.
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MP Jason Ortitay says he’s getting an ear from his voters.
“Since yesterday’s announcement, I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands, of messages, emails and comments about how bad this would be for our region,” Ortitay said Friday.
PennDOT said the tolls are required to make up for a lack of funding for a project to widen the bridge and make Interstate 79 three lanes in each direction between Bridgeville and South Pointe. It’s supposed to encourage more development in a developing area, but Ortitay says the toll would do the opposite.
“They are going to drive traffic out of this area and they are going to drive companies out of this area and it is just beating everything we’ve been working on for the past seven years,” Ortitay said.
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Often times, when drivers hear about tolls, their thoughts turn to ways to avoid them by finding an alternative route. By turning off at the Kirwan Heights exit, drivers could try to bypass the toll by going down Route 50 through Bridgeville, which already has a fair amount of traffic jams.
“The traffic in Bridgeville is as bad as it is,” said Robert Della Piazza of Bridgeville. “If people use the Kirwan Heights exit to avoid the toll, things will get worse.”
You might think the increasing local traffic might be good for business, but Heather Knuth says it isn’t.
“Nobody really benefits from that. These are all target companies, ”said Knuth.
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Representative Ortitay says he likes the project, he just doesn’t believe in paying I-79 to pay for it. He hopes federal funding will be provided in transportation or infrastructure bills.