Pennsylvania Turnpike travelers are reminded that tolls are set to go up by 3 percent at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010. New toll revenue from the increase only the seventh in nearly 70 years will mostly fund off-Turnpike infrastructure improvements.

The increase, first announced a year ago, will provide supplemental funding for the commonwealth's non-tolled roads and bridges as well as mass-transit agencies. Revenue from the toll increase will finance debt service associated with the Turnpike Commission's Act 44 obligations.

"This increase will allow PennDOT to boost infrastructure investment, improving highway smoothness and safety and ensuring the continued operation and enhancement of the state's public-transit systems," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "As a result, income from this toll increase can help stimulate our economy and generate jobs throughout Pennsylvania."

With the new tolls, the most-common cash rate for passenger vehicles will increase from 95 cents to $1, while the most-common cash rate for class-five commercial vehicles will increase from $7.85 to $8.10. Additional common fares are listed below, and a complete toll schedule is available at www.paturnpike.com [1]. Toll rates on the Findlay Connector/PA-576 will remain at the current level.

Through Act 44, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Ed Rendell in July 2007, the Turnpike has supplied more than $2 billion in supplemental funding to PennDOT. Those funds are at work on hundreds of projects statewide. In fact, PennDOT has improved 980 miles of roadway and replaced 92 bridges with Act 44 funds thus far.

"While the burden of helping to fund transportation statewide is heavy lifting, we remain focused on our mission of operating a safe, efficient toll-road system," said Turnpike Chief Engineer Frank Kempf. "In fact, we're continuing a robust plan for maintaining and improving our existing system, spending nearly $400 million on roadway and bridge capital projects this fiscal year alone."

Act 44's funding plan requires the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to adjust toll rates as needed to meet funding obligations, and the commission anticipates inflationary increases of 3 percent or more each January. The previous increase, a 25 percent adjustment, occurred in January 2009. Before that, the last time the commission increased tolls was August 2004.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike operates and maintains 545 miles of toll roads. It oversees 62 fare-collection facilities, 16 operational service plazas (two others are temporarily closed) and 26 maintenance facilities. With 2,169 employees, it generated $638.2 million in annual gross toll revenue from 186.2 million vehicles a year for fiscal year ending May 31, 2009. Known as "America's First Superhighway," it opened Oct. 1, 1940.