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Monday, August 20, 2007

Pennsylvanians not pleased with plan for I-80

Pennsylvanians are starting to give their two cents on Gov. Rendell's proposed plan to toll I-80, and so far, they aren't singing its praises. Not even close.

Ed Edwards, president of the Columbia/Montour Chamber of Commerce, is concerned that the proposed tolls will affect businesses in Bloomsburg.

Bloomsburg's economy relies on manufacturing, he said. Manufacturing companies calculated that I-80 tolls would increase their yearly transportation costs by a quarter of a million dollars a year, Edwards said.

'They're paying a penalty for being located where they are, and that penalty is in the form of tolls on Interstate 80,' he said."

For Susan Miller, 50, of Eau Claire, Butler County, I-80 is a lifeline.

She uses the interstate to visit family and go to her doctor in Clarion, about 20 miles away. She also uses it to get to the grocery store and the movies, she said.

It's a 'straight shot' to these destinations, Miller said. If I-80 becomes a toll road, she'll reorganize her errands.

'If they did a toll road, I'd have to plan it,' she said. 'I couldn't afford to go all the time.' "

Rick Felix, 50, of Emlenton, Venango County, relies heavily on the road. He also uses it to get to Clarion for appointments and shopping trips every other day.

No figures have been given for the tolls, but Felix is opposed to any charges. 'Financially, yeah, it would create a hardship.'

In Grove City, Chuck Barnes, owner of Broad Street Music andmanager of a Best Western motel, fears tolls on I-80 would set back the economic upturn that the arrival of outlet shopping has brought."

(See full Patriot News story here)

Rep. Peterson from Centre County recently wrote that an I-80 toll will "devastate all of the Commonwealth".

'Under the governor's plan, the round trip toll for I-80 will start at $51 for a car and $308 for an average truck and grow to $66 and $400, respectively; the highest rates in the country. Like it or not, this will drive commerce further away from Pennsylvania.'

Read his op-ed from The Morning Call, recently posted on this blog, here.

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