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Some will pay more to drive on Pa. Turnpike

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 27 2011 03:25:55 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 28 2011 04:42:28 AM CST

Get ready to shell out more money in the new year if you're going to be driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

BRECKNOCK TWP., Pa. -

Get ready to shell out more money in the new year if you're going to be driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Drivers passing through the toll booth have only a few days left before cash rates jump by 10 percent. Starting Sunday, the toll for a passenger vehicle paying with cash will increase from $1.10 to $1.25. 

"We cannot afford to continue to pay money for travel up and down the highway. I just think it's outrageous," said Robert Dixon, who drives on the turnpike to see his family.  

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has been increasing tolls every year since 2009 to help pay off bonds that fund highway improvements and mass transit systems around the state.  

"We spend about $460 million a year on improvements to the highway," said Carl DeFebo, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

This newest hike was approved in July, but here's the catch.  Drivers who get the green light using their E-ZPass will not see an increase.

That's a relief for Barry Johnson, who drives on the turnpike about once every other week.

"I'm always happy when I don't have to fork out more money," said Johnson.

Officials said the cost to process an E-ZPass transaction is about four times less than cash, so the turnpike commission is passing along the savings and encouraging drivers to get an E-ZPass to avoid paying the higher toll. 

"It's not only safer, faster and more convenient for them, but it's also better for the environment because it reduces idling at the toll plazas," said DeFebo.    

Officials said around 65 percent of drivers are already using E-ZPass on the turnpike, and they hope this number will climb with this newest hike.