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Friday, February 20, 2009

Is tolling I-80 dead?

Some of the Turnpike Commissioners think that tolling I-80 across PA remains a strong possibility, and that the federal government did not "reject" the tolling plan.  See the story in the Post-Gazette (HT to GrassrootsPA).  PennDOT Secretary Biehler (who serves as a Turnpike Commissioner as part of his duties, though unlike others, would not personally profit from tolling I-80) believes the federal law would have to be altered to allow for I-80 tolling. Freshman Congressman Glenn Thompson has introduced legislation that would do the opposite - and prevent tolling of I-80.

Capitolwire has some info in their daily "Under the Dome" column (subscription)

Timothy Carson, vice chairman of the Turnpike Commission, told the House Appropriations Committee during Thursday’s budget hearing that the application “was not rejected.” “The specific language of the Federal Highway Administration said that they were unable to move the application forward at this time,” Carson said. “It was a technical point that they raised.” But one of the other turnpike commissioners, PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler said earlier that the application was not approved and said "until the law is changed," he saw no reason to reapply. Carson added that Washington officials currently are occupied with the stimulus package and setting up the new Obama Administration, as well as the re-authorization of the transportation bill and the Highway Trust Fund’s empty coffers. “All of this is happening in Washington and we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that our application would get any real attention at this point,” Carson said. He went on to say that as the Legislature looks at the future of transportation in Pennsylvania, there may be “an opportunity for some kind of renewed political consensus to gel” regarding funding through tolling, the gas tax and other means.
Advice to Mr. Carson - if a girl says "I'm not interested in getting involved with anyone right now" or "it's not you, its me" - she really means she's not interested in you & it's not her, it's you.  Likewise, when the federal government says they are "unable to move the application forward", it also means you've been rejected.

Update: John Micek beat me to this joke


Anonymous said...

Does it not bother you that out-of-state drivers get to ride I-80 for free, not having to pay for repairs? I mean come on the roadway eats up huge dollars (PA taxpayer money), so making this a toll road is quite logical. In addition, the PA section of this roadway is the only non-tolled section from Chicago to the eastern seaboard. Its time to get with the program…

Nathan Benefield said...

I-80 is primarily funded by the federal government, and is entirely funded with the gas tax (and it is pretty hard to drive across PA without filling up on gas in the state).

Anonymous said...

So than, this is way the roadway is in tip-top shape? Yeah right, it is one of the worst roadways in the state and quite unsafe to drive on. Come on, it is a money hog and needs the toll dollars to become a safer road.