Driving in Pennsylvania is about to get more expensive

Metro file

Pennsylvania motorists will get hit with a one-two punch in the newyear, when the state’s gasoline tax and tolls will increase.

The state’s gas tax — already the highest in the nation at 50.3 cents per gallon — will jump another 8 cents on Jan. 1. That calculates to a 16-percentincrease. The federal government also imposes a tax of 18 cents per gallon.

And commuters traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will take a hit on their wallets starting Jan. 8, when tolls will go up 6 percent.

In 2016, Pennsylvania enjoyed a respite from the state gas tax hike, after a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in 2015 and a 9-cent increase the year before that.

The 2017 tax is the final scheduled increase under the state’s transportation law revision.”Itis impossible to predict what percentage of that 8 cents will be passed along to the consumer [at the gas pump] or when it will be passed along, if at all,” state Department of Transportation spokesman James May told the Times-Tribune.

An analyst with GasBuddy.com, a fuel monitoring website, told the newspaper that it’s likely gas stations will pass that tax onto consumers.

“I’ve yet to find a for-profit business that’s so benevolent,” the analyst, Patrick DeHaan, said. “Gasoline’s margin is pennies per gallon, and if you use a credit card … that’s another thing that eats up margins that gas stations have available.”

Tax hikes on gasoline over the last three years, totaling 27 cents altogether, are the product of legislation signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013 to improve the state’s vast — and failing — system of roads and bridges.

Proceeds from the pending 6-percent toll increase, approved by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, will help fund the ongoing widening of portions of the Turnpike. It will also allow the commission overseeing the turnpike to significantly decrease its annual funding obligation to the state Department of Transportation, from $450 million a year to $50 million by 2023.

Motorists crossing the eastern portion of the state, from Valley Forge to Harrisburg East, will now have to pay $7.32 with an E-ZPass, and $10.45 if paying in cash. That’s an increase from the current levels of $6.52 with an E-ZPass and $9.25 without one.

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