The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission on Monday approved its first toll increase in a decade, raising tolls for most passenger vehicles from $1 to $3. The toll changes affect the commission’s eight toll bridges spanning the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the Route 22 and Interstate 78 crossings in the Easton area. For passenger cars, the tolls would increase to $3 for cash-paying passenger cars, $1.25 for E-ZPass customers. Another hike is planned for 2024 with the E-ZPass cost bumped up to $1.50.
Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed a three-day total of 10,101 new cases of coronavirus, leaving the state's overall total at 1,015,268. 48 new coroanvirus-related deaths were also reported, pushing the state's total to 25,015. Another concerning number is the statewide percent positivity rate for the seven days ending March 25th stood at 7.6-percent, up from recent weeks.
A Bethlehem Area School District high school will temporarily go to online learning after COVID-19 cases were reported. There are 10 cases associated with Liberty High School, prompting the high school to move to remote learning for all students and staff for today and Wednesday. The high school will resume its regular hybrid schedule on Tuesday, April 6. All extracurricular activities are canceled until the high school returns to hybrid classes.
Pennsylvania schools will get nearly $5 billion from the $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief package. Locally, the Allentown School District is getting the most money, $88 million. The only Pennsylvania school districts getting more money than Allentown are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Reading. The Wolf administration says districts must use at least 20 percent of the money to address learning loss from the pandemic and support the “social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students."
Pennsylvanians are frustrated with the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout as New York is expanding eligibility to people ages 30 and up. Pennsylvania remains in Phase 1A of its rollout plan, which means only those ages 65 and up, along with people with medical conditions, are eligible to be vaccinated. Some residents are now booking vaccinations in New York, saying it was easy.
New Jersey is loosening some coronavirus-related restrictions and allowing up to 200 people at large outdoor gatherings starting Friday. Gov. Phil Murphy is also allowing indoor catered events like birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings to have more people. "This order will also clarify that banquet halls and similar venues can host indoor celebrations and other private events at 35-percent of the room's capacity or up to 150 persons," Murphy says. Also Friday, buildings with 2500 seats and up will be classified as large venues, allowing more locations to reopen.
A 31-year-old Coplay man is now charged with a March 7th road rage incident on I-78 in Weisenberg Township. The Lehigh County DA says Justin Mitman intentionally drove his pickup truck into a car containing a woman and her two young children and caused it to hit a concrete barrier and metal guide rail. All three people in that car were treated at the hospital. Investigators say the incident began about a half-hour earlier when Mitman was driving erratically at the Wawa in Upper Macungie Township and began yelling at the victim and her husband who was driving a different vehicle. Mitman then allegedly followed the woman north on Route 100 and onto I-78 where he eventually rammed into her and began yelling at her once again. No motive for the incident has been given.
Easton police are looking for vandals who targeted the Simon Silk Mill complex. Three people were seen on surveillance video March 24 using BB guns to shoot out several car windows and damage a building. Anyone with information is asked to call Easton Police at 610-759-2200.
A SUV backed into and shattered display windows at the Petco store at the 25th Street Shopping Center in Palmer Township just after 10 Monday morning. The incident caused no structural damage to the building and it appears the store will be able to remain open while repairs are made.
Pennsylvania-based Sheetz is looking to hire 3000 people across its convenience stores. They say 1500 of those job will be here in Pennsylvania. The hiring event is being held Wednesday at each of their locations in celebration of National Hiring Day.
New Jerseyans could have the option to vote early and in-person. Gov. Phil Murphy is scheduled to sign legislation today during a virtual meeting with Stacey Abrams, who is credited with helping Democrats win the presidential and Senate election during the 2020 cycle. Absentee voting is already in place in New Jersey.
New Jersey is once again extending its decision for families to sign up for health care plans. Gov. Phil Murphy says residents now have until the end of the year to sign up for health insurance through the program "Get Covered New Jersey." Murphy says giving residents more time will allow them to benefit from money coming in from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan. Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride says the American Rescue Plan also lowers health insurance premiums, making coverage more affordable.
Offshore wind is gaining ground in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy is applauding the Biden administration for expanding the state's Ocean Wind project. The plan is to advance the project 15 miles off the coast of New Jersey, which could bring more than $1 billion to the state's economy. Murphy says the Notice of Intent brings the Garden State one step closer to 100-percent clean energy by 2050.
New Jersey's peak season for wildfires is underway. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says the Forest Fire Service responded to more than 1000 wildfires during 2020, which burned more than 4700 acres of land. Officials say people are the cause of nearly all of New Jersey's wildfires, whether by accident or not.