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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bill for Turnpike Lobbying: $700,000

Joe Grata in the Post-Gazette with a look at the Turnpike Commission's $700,000 in lobbying contracts for 2007 ($396,000 at the federal level and $316,000 for Harrisburg lobbyist - above and beyond their in-house lobbyists). The Commission's defense:

Turnpike commission spokesman Bill Capone said what's obvious are the results: $79.2 million in federal money for the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway in southwestern Pennsylvania; $76.3 million for a new turnpike/Interstate 95 interchange in the Philadelphia area; and $25.1 million for intelligent transportation systems statewide, such as changeable message signs and a special fog alert system on a mountainous stretch near Breezewood.
Yes, they think taxpayers should be glad that they are using toll monies to lobbying the federal government for more taxpayer funds.

Flashback: Way back in December 2006, the Turnpike Commission needed $2.4 Billion to finish the Mon-Fay expressway, and put the project on hold. But then in July 2007 they were able to promise area lawmakers they would finish Mon-Fayette if Act 44 was passed. Now that's what I call extortion lobbying.

Pennsyltucky Politics has more on Turnpike lobbying. Capitol Ideas also has a blurb, along with a second blurb on potential lost revenue of a "non-foreign" Turnpike lease - also noting with apparent surprise - that the Commonwealth Foundation isn't xenophobic. Note to Mr. Micek - in spite of what Bill George may say, we also oppose slavery.

1 comment:

Andrea Boykowycz said...

That ain't all: the Turnpike has submitted a request to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission to put one section of the Southern Beltway back on the transportation plan, using the argument that they can raise tolls under Act 44 to cover the bond costs, which are estimated to be $45 - $50 million/year for 30 years. Yes, that's right, $1.5 billion in toll revenue for 12 miles of new toll road that would stretch from Nowhere to Not Much Else. (Care to comment? Use PennFuture's action alert to send comments to legislators and the SPC.)

Of course, this is all happening while the Turnpike has apparently shelved repair work on 22 miles of mainline near Bedford for lack of funds.