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Pennsylvania Turnpike Rejects Claims That Its Tolls Are The Highest In The World

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the most expensive toll road in the world, says an Australian insurance company. But turnpike officials call that claim flawed.

Nobody likes those turnpike tolls.

"I think it's insane that it's that expensive. It shouldn't be that expensive to travel," says Kurtis Helbling of Monroeville.

It now costs a whopping $95 to cross the state from Ohio to New Jersey without an E-ZPass.

"I think it's ridiculous because I'm coming out here almost two times a week," says Kindra Blair of Roaring Spring.

Budget Direct, an Australian insurance company, claims the Turnpike is the world's most expensive toll road.

"The science is a bit flawed here, I must say, Jon," Turnpike spokesperson Carl DeFebo told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.

He says the study added up the cost of driving all the Turnpike's toll roads, including the Northeast Extension from outside Philadelphia to Scranton.

"Nobody would ever go south towards Pittsburgh, east towards Philadelphia, then north towards Scranton. That's a 400-plus mile trip."

Rather than price an imaginary trip nobody would ever take, DeFebo says the industry compares the cost per mile traveled.

On that basis, the Pennsylvania Turnpike falls in the middle, although it is still more expensive than turnpikes in Ohio, New Jersey and New York.

Using E-ZPass cuts the costs.

"There's now a significant discount for those that pay with E-ZPass. And so E-ZPass customers on some trips can save as much as 60 percent since the beginning of the year," says DeFebo.

That trip across the state drops from $95 to $47 with EZ-Pass.

Still, why the high cost?

Because, says DeFebo, state lawmakers require $450 million of tolls to be turned over to PennDOT for public transit.

"The two biggest recipients are the Port Authority of Allegheny County and SEPTA, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority in Philadelphia."

That subsidy will drop to $50 million in 2022, but don't expect tolls to drop, too. The Turnpike has a $7 billion debt to pay off in the years to come.

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