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HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — The chairman of Pennsylvania’s Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday said he wants to halt plans to toll nine major bridges on interstates around the state, including I-95’s mile-long Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambria, introduced a bill to require legislative authorization of any proposed transportation project with a user fee, even it is approved by a public-private transportation board lawmakers created in 2012.

The bill also aims to create a new process for informing lawmakers and the public about a proposed project that the state Department of Transportation brings to the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board.

READ MORE: COVID In Philadelphia: City Says All Residents 65 Years And Older Now Eligible To Receive Vaccine

The board is composed of appointees of the governor and top lawmakers. In November, it authorized PennDOT to install electronic tolling gantries on bridges to finance their reconstruction, the first time it had approved toll projects.

The department named nine bridges last month, but some lawmakers are unhappy over it.

READ MORE: When Can I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine In Pennsylvania, New Jersey Or Delaware?

Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian has told lawmakers that the aging bridges are in need of major reconstruction and the department needs more money to keep up with its public safety obligations.

Tolls would be between $1 and $2, probably both ways, raise about $2.2 billion and last from the start of construction in 2023 for three or four years until construction is finished, Gramian told lawmakers last month.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Dr. Oz demands five debates as Fetterman slowly returns to campaign trail


Dr. Mehmet Oz has challenged John Fetterman to five moderated debates, knocking his Democratic opponent for being largely absent from the Senate campaign trail despite experiencing a stroke in May.

Oz has repeatedly criticized Fetterman for his absence while recovering, using his debate challenge to highlight the Democrat’s health as a way to stoke concerns over whether he is capable of serving a full term in the Senate. The demand for a debate comes on the same day Fetterman is set to host an event in Erie, Pennsylvania, his first public rally since his stroke.

FETTERMAN SAYS HE HAS ‘NOTHING TO HIDE’ ABOUT HEALTH AFTER TWO MONTHS OFF TRAIL

“I've officially committed to 5 moderated debates across Pennsylvania. Fetterman has agreed to 0,” Oz said in a tweet on Friday. “It's time for Fetterman to show up. Pennsylvanians deserve to hear from their candidates.”

Fetterman’s campaign indicated he would be open to a debate but did not specify how many or whether it would agree to terms laid out by Oz, according to NBC News. Going further, a spokesperson for the campaign dismissed Oz’s challenge as “an obvious and pathetic attempt to change the subject during yet another bad week.”

"John is up for debating Oz — but we’re not going to do this on Oz’s terms,” Fetterman campaign strategist Rebecca Katz told the outlet. “A millionaire celebrity like Dr. Oz is probably used to pushing people around and getting his own way, but he’s not going to be able to bully John Fetterman.”

Fetterman’s event on Friday will be the first time supporters will be able to assess his recovery after Republicans have spent weeks questioning whether he is fit for office due to his health. Fetterman was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart muscle to become weakened and enlarged, just over two months ago after the Democrat suffered a stroke in mid-May.

Fetterman was then hospitalized just days before winning the nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania, a key swing state in the midterm elections in November, later conceding he “almost died.” However, he maintains that the incident would not hinder him from completing his Senate duties.

Fetterman had previously been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, in 2017 after experiencing swelling in his feet. He was instructed to return for a follow-up appointment in the next few months but did not return until five years after his initial diagnosis — raising questions on whether the Democrat is in good enough health to run in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

In an interview in late July, his first interview since the stroke, Fetterman assured that he does not have any “physical limits” and has “nothing to hide” about his health status. The 52-year-old candidate detailed his health recovery over the last few months, noting he walks 4 to 5 miles every day in 90-degree heat, can properly understand words in conversations, and didn’t lose any of his memory, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Despite his absence from the campaign trail, Fetterman has maintained a healthy lead over Oz in the polls and has benefited from positive media coverage detailing his social media ads against his Republican opponent. In one, former Jersey Shore cast member Nicole "Snooki" LaValle criticized Oz for his longtime New Jersey residency while standing alongside Fetterman.

Pennsylvania’s Senate race has been called a toss-up by nonpartisan election analysts, and the seat is seen as possibly the best pickup opportunity for Democrats as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) retires and Democrats seek to maintain or grow their Senate majority.

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