As Chief of Police and a 30-year resident of South Fayette Township, I feel compelled to reach out to the community to share my thoughts regarding the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s proposed toll on Interstate 79.
My top priority is to protect the safety and interests of our citizens, and I do not believe the toll is in the community’s best interest.
Professionally and personally, I have many concerns about the proposed toll, which would fund a project at the Bridgeville/South Fayette interchange that could start as soon as 2023.
A toll would significantly increase traffic in an area that already is heavily congested. Our police department, township staff and elected township commissioners have worked tirelessly to alleviate and improve existing traffic problems within the I-79/Washington Pike corridor, while also working to increase and support commercial and residential growth.
The toll would cause many motorists to exit the highway seeking alternate routes to avoid the toll, worsening congestion, impacting safety and causing additional wear-and-tear on our local roads.
Additionally, a toll would place an unfair burden on local taxpayers, forcing local residents, businesses and employees to pay more than their fair share for access to a highway area traversed by at least 87,000 vehicles a day—12 percent of them trucks.
Charging a toll also could discourage businesses and residents who are looking to move here, despite the great schools, parks, neighborhoods and other community amenities.
PennDOT has chosen nine locations throughout the state to place tolls. The I-79 Bridgeville/South Fayette location is the only toll proposed in Allegheny County and the only toll on the entire length of I-79. Why was our community chosen to shoulder this additional cost? Is it because South Fayette Township is one of the fastest growing areas in the state? Is it because this area has had an uptick in vehicular traffic and would therefore generate more revenue?
We must think about these serious questions and demand answers.
The time for residents to speak out is now.
Here’s how to share your opinion with PennDOT about the proposed I-79 toll:
- Website (scroll to bottom of page for feedback form)
- Mail: I-79 Widening, Bridges and Bridgeville Interchange Reconfiguration Project, 301 Grant St Floor 17, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
John R. Phoennik