Tolling I-80 Still Debated

Though controversial, the proposal for initiating a tolling system on Pennsylvania’s I-80 is still being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration, and, because of this, it is still being discussed and debated. The Reading Eagle put out a story last week describing how the interstate would be tolled. The tolling of I-80 is part of the plan to raise revenue for Act 44, Pennsylvania’s transportation legislation that was signed into law by Governor Rendell in June of 2007.  The application was resubmitted earlier this year, after it was initially rejected . Rumor has it that the decision regarding the application should be made public by the end of December, though no details regarding that decision have been confirmed.

US Representative Glenn Thompson has been one of the key leaders in opposing this proposal, stating that tolling the highway “will greatly compromise the lifeline of commerce here in Pennsylvania.” Additionally, many state legislators are opposing the possible measure, arguing that the increased financial burden would harm their constituents during already tough economic times.

But sustainable transportation advocates are firmly supporting this proposal. Many cite the funding inequities that come along with driving (the fact that government funds subsidize most roads and fuel). Peter Javsicas of PenTrans writes this in his November Philadelphia Inquirer editorial:

Why toll I-80? Because driving in Pennsylvania is too cheap. Taxes and fees don’t cover the real costs of roads and fuel, which are heavily subsidized. Take away the subsidies and many people would have to cut back on driving or give it up. Take away the subsidies, and the costs of goods and services delivered by trucks would increase dramatically.

One thing remains certain: there is a significant funding gap within Act 44 without the toll money. Without the I-80 toll money, the revenue generated will come to $450 million annually, which is less than one-fourth of the needed $1.7 billion.

Do you support the tolling of I-80? If the proposal is rejected, what steps should the Commonwealth take to close the funding gap?

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on December 11, 2009, in Media Coverage, Public Infrastructure, Transportation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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