Pa. auditor general: Turnpike at 'most critical juncture ever'

Tony Romeo
March 21, 2019 - 2:06 pm
Pennsylvania’s auditor general says the Pennsylvania Turnpike is at a crossroads.

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania’s auditor general says the news contained in his latest audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is "about as bad (as he) could possibly give."

And he says there could be a major spike in the already high tolls if the Turnpike loses a lawsuit filed by truckers. 

By law, the Turnpike borrows $450 million a year for mass transit. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says that has contributed to about half of nearly $12 billion in Turnpike debt. And if the Turnpike loses a lawsuit over the toll increases that have resulted, and refunds are ordered, DePasquale says by law, seeking bankruptcy protection would not be an option.

READ: Key Pa. lawmaker optimistic about turnpike lawsuit

"Look, you’d probably just be forced by some federal judge to dramatically raise the tolls," he said. "Because if they’re not allowed to declare bankruptcy, then you’ve got to keep making the debt service payments."

DePasquale says even if the state wins the lawsuit, the Turnpike is at perhaps its most critical juncture since the decision was made to build it, and the legislature must address that. In fact, a day earlier, key state lawmakers announced the formation of work groups to explore ways to do so.