May. 18, 2022
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler today issued a preliminary injunction ordering PennDOT to stop its work related to its plan to toll nine bridges throughout the Commonwealth until the full court can render a decision. In response, Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) issued the following statement:
“I’m thrilled the court is taking action, and this is a good start. Earlier today, the full Commonwealth Court held a hearing on the lawsuit filed by Bridgeville Borough and South Fayette and Collier townships related to the I-79 bridge. While this injunction was issued in regard to a court case filed by Cumberland County and several municipalities against PennDOT related to the tolling of the I-83 bridge in Harrisburg, it applies to all nine bridges. The attorneys for our lawsuit assisted Cumberland County with its filing.
“This injunction is especially important because PennDOT said during a hearing on the Cumberland County case last month that it planned to execute a contract with the foreign company that it chose for the work. This contract would pay the company millions of dollars even if the project was canceled due to a court ruling. PennDOT has shown that it will steamroll the process and recklessly spend taxpayer dollars for no reason.
“We had a good hearing today. Based on questions by the judges, it appears they are very skeptical of PennDOT’s actions. It is abundantly clear that PennDOT violated the P3 process. I’m very hopeful this will become a permanent injunction. I urge PennDOT to not waste more taxpayer dollars by appealing this decision. It’s time for the agency and the Wolf administration to admit they were wrong and come to the table to dialogue, not rule as a dictator.”
In November 2020, PennDOT’s P3 Board voted to toll interstate bridges it planned to repair or replace but did not name the specific ones. Three months later, in February 2021, PennDOT announced the list at the governor’s direction. According to Act 88 of 2012, the board must assess each project’s scope, framework and impact on citizens and do a cost/benefit analysis before approving the project. Bridgeville Borough and South Fayette and Collier townships filed suit in November 2021 demanding PennDOT be stopped as it violated this law. In March 2022, PennDOT hired a foreign company to be the lead contractor on the tolling projects.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick