I-80 tolling bites the dust
April 6, 2010 1 Comment
The Federal Highway Administration has rejected Pennsylvania’s application to toll Interstate 80, creating a 450-million dollar hole in next year’s transportation budget. Governor Rendell says the revenue gap’s impact will be substantial.
FHA officials say Pennsylvania’s plan to direct tolling revenue to transportation projects across the state would violate federal law. Rendell vigorously objects to the legal interpretation – but there’s nothing he can do to challenge it. He says the best way to move forward is to find new revenue, so Rendell is calling a special legislative session to deal with the issue.
Rendell says he’ll consider any and all proposals, including a partial lease of the Turnpike, new levies on oil companies, and other fees and taxes. House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Markosek, an Allegheny County Democrat, says that could get interesting for lawmakers.
Tolling opponents are hailing the decision. Republican Congressman Glenn Thompson calls it “a victory for the people of the commonwealth.” House Minority Leader Sam Smith says “tolling was just not in the interests of Pennsylvania,” adding, “many legislators had concerns and voiced them on the floor before [the 2007 Act 44] vote.”
Markosek says tolling objectors should think twice before celebrating, though.
There’s no word yet on when the special legislative session will take place.