The U.S. House has passed an appropriations bill that contains an amendment to prohibit federal funding for the conversion of Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania into a toll road.
Offered by two Republican U.S. representatives from Pennsylvania, John E. Peterson and Phil English, the amendment is part of a House appropriations bill, HR3074, to fund transportation and housing in the upcoming fiscal year.
Earlier this summer, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation, signed into law July 17 by Gov. Ed Rendell, to use I-80 as a revenue generator for state transportation programs.
Peterson stated in a press release that he doesn’t trust the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to assume control and toll I-80 to raise money for state transportation programs that include mass transit.
“The amount of federal money transferred from the state motor license fund to mass transit funds in Pennsylvania is unprecedented compared to the rest of the country, further underscoring the inequity in the state government’s transportation agencies,” said Peterson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. His congressional district has numerous counties through which I-80 passes.
“Tolling I-80 will force traffic off I-80 and onto our local highways, thereby causing increased maintenance costs, congestion and traffic accidents,” Peterson said.
The Senate must now pass its version of the appropriations bill. The House and Senate must then agree on the final language of the bill – in a joint conference committee, if necessary – before it can reach the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association backed the amendment, issuing a Call to Action to its 154,000 members to urge their representatives to vote in favor of it.
– By David Tanner, staff writer