‘Ask Evan’: Why is there a Turnpike Commission and PennDOT?

This week's 'Ask Evan' question deals with the PA Turnpike Commission.  Lou S ask, "Why do we have a Turnpike Commission and a department of transportation?

I reached out to PA Turnpike Commission spokesman Carl Defebo to track down the answer.  He says the state legislature formed the turnpike commission back in 1935 with act 211.  There was a desire to create a 4 lane limited access highway across the commonwealth.  This was well before PennDOT, and there was no highway money available etc.

State lawmakers formed the commission to build the highway and charge a toll to pay for its construction and maintenance.  In the mid 1950's the federal interstate system law was created and that's when most state department of transportations came into creation.. including Pennsylvania's.

That's how two separate and distinct agencies became operational.  Defebo says the two agencies have become sister agencies over the years  For example, the turnpike commission and PennDOT share engineering, training, signage, along with data and technology.

The commission also provides money to PennDOT.  Act 44 of 2007 mandates the turnpike commission provide 450 million dollars annually to PennDOT to help fund 72 transit agencies across the state.  Act 89 which became law in 2013,  calls for a reduction of that money from 450 to 50 million dollars annually starting in the year 2023.

There has been off and on discussion about the possibility of merging the two agencies, but so far that has not really gained any traction in the legislature.

Thanks for the question Lou.  If you have questions you'd like to ask send me an email to AskEvan@FOX43.com.  Put 'Ask Evan in the subject line.  You can also reach out to me on my Facebook page Evan Forrester FOX43. Whatever the topic I'll do my best to track down answers you are looking for.