by Paul Big Bear
Summer is here and we are coming out of the COVID19 Pandemic, but where can we go? Get your vaccination, take your mask off, get your vaccination, go out and gather, eat, party, shop, bar b q, get your vaccination, travel. Really, Pennsylvania just shy of a year and a half of being told we have to stay home, wear a mask, stay six feet apart, do not visit loved ones in the hospital even though they may be dying, now we have been liberated. The problem as I see it is; have you seen the prices of food, eating out, a gallon of gasoline?
Have you purchased steaks for dinner with all the trimmings, home cooked? Maybe you went to your favorite place to eat (if they survived the pandemic) was it a bit higher priced as they too felt the squeeze of social distancing. Have family and friends over for a bar b q if they can travel, if you can afford a large get together. Travel – go on vacation if you can afford the more than doubled price of gasoline. As if that isn’t enough of a burden on your wallet here comes Harrisburg and another Turnpike toll raise, for the 14th consecutive year.
How about another 5%, do you have an E-Z Pass your toll increase will be along the lines of $1.60 raised to $1.70, toll by plate will look like this $3.90 to $4.10. But the good news is this is the first time in six years that the increase has been kept under 6%. You see the Pennsylvania Turnpike, one of the nation’s oldest toll roads is in debt, they have an annual payment due to Penn Dot of $450 million. More good news, next year the payment will drop to $50 million (the other $400 million will be provided by the state’s motor vehicle and use tax.) Allow me to quote Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton, “Finally, we are seeing a light at the end of this very long tunnel, in addition to breathing a huge sigh of relief ourselves, it enables us to begin to offer some relief to customers from those heftier toll increases and refocus on essential improvements to our roadway.” That sounds good but, guess what, the commission is planning annual toll increases of 5% through 2025, 4% in 2026, 3.5% in 2027 and 3% annually from 2028 to 2050.
What plans do you have to emerge financially from your COVID19 debt and what will you be doing now that we are free to get together again. I am checking with my GPS to see if I can fill my tank, go food shopping, come home and bar b q some hot dogs and baked beans and take my wife out for an ice cream cone without taking a toll road.