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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 22, 2021 12:16 PM
From: Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reducing Project Delivery Costs at the PA Turnpike Commission
We can save upwards of $170 million by reducing project delivery costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC).
My legislation will place PTC under the same exemption as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).  PennDOT is currently exempt from local municipal ordinances and is not required to follow stringent regulations set by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  The NPDES is not regulated in any neighboring State, and singling-out the PTC only adds unnecessary costs to their projects. 
The number of stormwater control measures along the Pennsylvania Turnpike has significantly increased from 96 measures in 2008 to 739 measures in 2018.  An example of a stormwater reduction strategy occurred on the Mainline Turnpike west of Carlisle where PTC had to invoke eminent domain powers to take 2.7 acres of prime farmland to construct a large stormwater pond that will never reach capacity.  Spending money to take personal property to build disproportionate basins is a waste of tollpayer dollars.
In the past 10 years, PTC had to invest approximately $135 million in stormwater management costs, which is expected to increase to approximately $170 million in the next 10 years.  These costs do not even reflect long-term inspection and maintenance costs. 
Further, PTC has to follow another stringent sanction to remove “regulated” soil from a project site.  The soils of the Commonwealth contain naturally occurring metals.  If the PTC excavates native soil and the tests conclude that the soil contains naturally occurring metals over the threshold of the Clean Fill standards, then the soil is deemed regulated and needs to be disposed of at a facility permitted to accept such soil.  As a result, PTC evaluates whether to pay the costly testing and disposal fees, or to buy property and pay a contractor to build massive mounds of soil near the project site.  Spending money to test and dispose of soil that was never touched, but contains naturally occurring metals, is another waste of tollpayer dollars.
PTC was mandated to provide $450 million annually to support public transportation across the Commonwealth since 2007.  Consequently, PTC had to borrow nearly $7 billion and increase toll rates to pay for public transportation – a transportation alternative that improves the environment.  Now is the time to start thinking of innovative ways to save PTC money.  Eliminating stringent regulations to pay for unnecessary environmental regulations will help PTC deliver more projects.
Revisions to Commonwealth law and policy can provide more flexibility to address environmental issues.  Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to reduce project delivery costs, help bolster the PTC’s capital program and end the future takeover of prime farmland and other private property for disproportionate watersheds and other costly environmental strategies.
If you have any questions, please contact Nolan Ritchie of my staff at nritchie@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB737