By Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The new transportation funding law enacted last month addresses the problem of mounting debt at the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but relief from annual toll increases related to that debt is still quite a while off.

A 2007 law required the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to borrow hundreds of millions a year for transportation needs, which is being paid for with annual toll increases.

The new law, signed last month, eliminates the Turnpike’s borrowing obligation, but only after eight years.

“And then even after it ends in eight years, the accumulated debt has to be paid off,” PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch says. “So while you’ll see a gradual flattening of the toll increases, until the debt that’s been accumulated is paid off, you’re still going to have to see toll increases.”

Another round of toll increases takes effect soon. Last summer, the Turnpike Commission announced that tolls would go up twelve-percent for cash customers, and two-percent for E-ZPass customers, in January.

The good news is that the plan to sunset the Turnpike’s borrowing has won praise from Moody’s Investors Service.

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