Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike have increased 10 times since it opened in 1937.

That's not too bad -- it averages out to about once every 71/2 years, right?


Six of those increases have occurred since 2008, and the turnpike commission announced this week another hike is scheduled for January 2014.

What's the problem?

Surprise, surprise -- it's the state Legislature.

Back in 2007, lawmakers approved a plan to toll Interstate 80 to help fund transportation projects across the state. The turnpike commission was to collect the tolls and make annual transfers to the state Department of Transportation until 2057.

Federal regulators eventually nixed the idea because tolls collected on interstates can only be used for maintenance on those particular roadways.

Common sense might suggest the Legislature go ahead with tolling I-80 -- other interstates, even -- and at least scratching those off the state's long list of poorly maintained roads and bridges.

It didn't.

At the same time, it failed to repeal Act 44, the part of the plan that required the turnpike commission to make annual monetary transfers to PennDOT.

Since 2010, the commission has been sending $450 million a year to the department, adding $4 billion in turnpike debt that continues to grow.

Hence, the annual increases that have more than doubled turnpike tolls in the past 10 years.

The state Legislature this summer also failed to agree on a plan to boost transportation funding by $2 billion to $2.5 billion, which would have reduced the amount of money the turnpike commission is required to transfer.


So here we are, spinning our wheels and paying more for the privilege.

We're not suggesting there's an easy fix to Pennsylvania's crumbling transportation infrastructure. Even the plan lawmakers left on the table in June would have raised the gasoline tax and imposed higher fees on drivers.

But there must be a fix -- and a comprehensive one.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul isn't cutting it.

Meanwhile ...

Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch warned Wednesday 1,000 more state bridges will be issued weight restrictions, in addition to the 1,100 already deemed unsafe for large vehicles like school buses, fire trucks and tractor trailers.

Time to get it in gear, lawmakers.