A third attempt to turn Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania into a toll-road has been met again by firm opposition.
The collaborative effort of Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has sought to establish tolls to the currently non-tolled I-80. Under the commonwealth’s Act 44 of 2007, which allows for long-term transportation funding, the commission would operate I-80 as a toll road in exchange for annual lease payments to PennDOT. Two prior applications to the Federal Highway Administration met with failure, and several groups have sworn to see the move go down a third time.
The Coalition to Keep I-80 Toll-free, which includes business and commerce groups in the region that would be affected, recently released a study they say supports their claims against the plan. Not only would tolling the road adversely affect the area economy, they say, but current users already pay more in highway taxes than PennDOT spends on freeway maintenance each year.
Several Pennsylvania lawmakers have denounced the plan as well, citing economic and management concerns, as part of a bi-partisan effort including both federal and state congress members. U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, released an Oct. 30 statement hailing Act 44 as an egregious measure, which only doubles the commission’s size and reach, and is meant to “cover-up years of mismanagement of taxpayer funds and the perpetuation of an antiquated and corrupt Turnpike Commission.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) also opposes the toll change as double taxation, and calls for a repeal of Act 44. The state needs to first “fix the holes in their funding bucket before pouring in more money,” the association says.
Etrucker.com: Pa. applies again to toll I-80. Jill Dunn.
Thompson Reacts to a Third I-80 Tolling Application. (Press release, Oct. 30, 2009)
OOIDA: Tolling I-80 in Penn. Would be a harmful bailout. (Press release, Nov. 2, 2009)
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