The Equity Case for I-80 Tolling
As many of you know, we have been following the decision to toll Interstate 80 (I-80) closely, as the future of transportation funding in PA seems to depend largely on the outcome of the decision.
I came across an interesting op-ed today related to this topic.
Christopher Borton, President of the Wilkes-Barre based Engineering and Architecture firm of Borton-Lawson, provides a compelling argument in Citizens’ Voice for why I-80 should be tolled. A regular user of a toll road (the Turnpike), Borton rejects the claim that tolling the interstate would be unfair to the residents of the corridor. stating:
After all, a good portion of our Turnpike tolls are helping to improve transportation in all of the 67 counties in our states – yes, even in I-80 counties. We who travel the Northeastern Extension have been paying higher tolls for more than a year now. Tolls on the Turnpike increased 25 percent in January, 2009 and went up another three percent this past January. Nearly all the revenues from those increases have gone to help the Turnpike Commission meet its financial obligations to the state under Act 44 of 2007, the law that calls for the tolling of I-80. I wonder if other Turnpike users realize their tolls are paying for non-Turnpike bridge and highway improvements across the state?
Borton provides other good reasons for why tolling I-80 might make sense: improved transportation facilities, safer roads and bridges, and maintenance of important infrastructure. He concludes, “Without new revenues to fund our aging infrastructure, our economy would falter and eventually could fail.”
What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you think tolling I-80 would be fair? How else can the state fill the funding gap?