Poll shows Pennsylvanians disapprove of I-80 tolls, Turnpike lease

| 8/5/2008

A majority of Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Interstate 80 becoming a toll road as well as the possibility of the Pennsylvania Turnpike being leased to private investors, researchers from Quinnipiac University said Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Researchers from Quinnipiac University, based in Hamden, CT, posed 17 questions to 1,580 Pennsylvania voters in a telephone poll conducted from Thursday, July 30, through Sunday, Aug. 3.

The poll included questions about state budget issues, lawmaker ratings and how state officials should react to a recent scandal involving two state House Democrats, their staffs and the alleged use of state funds for political gain.

On the issue of transportation budgeting, 63 percent of those surveyed said they did not want to see Interstate 80 become a toll road across the state. Twenty-nine percent said they supported the measure, and 8 percent did not provide an answer.

In a similar margin, 60 percent of the voters surveyed said they disapproved of Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private investors, even if the lease included a cap on toll increases.

Fifty-four percent of survey respondents gave Rendell a positive approval rating overall, but 47 percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of the way he has handled state budget issues, including transportation.

“These numbers are telltale signs,” Mike Joyce, senior government affairs representative for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Land Line Magazine.

“The politicians in Pennsylvania should heed some of those numbers. I know they showed Rendell’s numbers are fine, but close to two-thirds of the people oppose tolling I-80 and it looks like two-thirds also oppose leasing the Turnpike. It’s not just Republicans or Democrats; it’s Pennsylvanians.”

Click here to read the Quinnipiac University poll.

The first few questions deal with how lawmakers are handling a corruption scandal known as Bonusgate that is brewing in the state House.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced grand-jury indictments against two state representatives and 10 staff members for allegedly arranging and collecting pay bonuses for working on political campaigns in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said Gov. Rendell should call a special session of the General Assembly to strengthen anti-corruption laws.

– By David Tanner, staff writer