(HARRISBURG) – – A bi-partisan group of ten state senators has written to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to express continuing opposition to the proposal to toll Interstate Route 80, according to Senator John R. Gordner (R-27), who led the effort. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently resubmitted an application to seek federal approval to toll Interstate 80.
The senators expressed their continued concerns about the negative impact the proposal will have on residents and businesses in the Commonwealth and have asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to carefully consider those concerns as the Department reviews the Pennsylvania application.
Among the specific concerns cited by the Senators are:
- The tolling proposal will have overwhelming negative economic impact upon business and industry located along the I-80 corridor by greatly increasing transportation costs. The letter cited specific business estimates of the costs of the proposal.
- The method by which Act 44, legislation authorizing the I-80 tolling plan, was passed and is now being implemented undermines the process envisioned by the federal government in its pilot Interstate tolling project.
- The proposal to toll Interstate 80 fails to meet any of three criteria required by the federal government to institute tolls on interstate highways. Those three criteria include traffic congestion relief, reduction of vehicle emissions in non-attainment emission areas or the need to construct additional road infrastructure.
- A 2005 study by the state Department of Transportation concluded that tolling Interstate 80 was not a viable option to fund the state’s transportation needs. The resubmitted tolling application confirms this by the massive amount of debt obligation required under the plan.
“The plan to toll Interstate 80 was a bad idea when Act 44 was passed in 2007, and the new application by the Turnpike Commission fails to address any of the numerous concerns I and the opponents have forwarded in the past year,” said Senator Gordner. “We are especially concerned that the Turnpike Commission will have to assume over $20 billion in debt obligations to fund improvements along the I-80 corridor, failing to meet federal requirements that such projects are the most efficient and economical way to meet transportation needs.”