Pennsylvania state senators band together to oppose I-80 tolls

| 12/5/2007

Eleven state senators in Pennsylvania have teamed up to let U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters know they oppose the conversion of I-80 into a toll road.

The senators, 10 Republicans and one Democrat from districts in the 311-mile Interstate 80 corridor, say they do not believe the interests of their constituents was taken into account during the passage of the state law that authorized the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to assume control of Interstate 80 for the purpose of tolling.

“While the Turnpike Commission did not solicit public comment on this proposal prior to the passage of House Bill 1590, they have since launched a publicly funded advertising campaign and have been conducting public meetings across the state to seek and provide input on the proposal,” the senators wrote in a letter to Peters dated Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Sen. John R. Gordner, R-27th District, spearheaded the letter. He represents four counties affected by the proposal.

Gov. Ed Rendell signed HB1590 into law in July as part of the state budget process. The legislation contained Act 44 that authorized transportation officials to apply to the Federal Highway Administration to toll I-80.

By mid-October, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission had signed a lease to assume control of I-80 from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The commission promptly filed its tolling application with FHWA.

Truckers, business owners, elected officials and community leaders have responded with opposition at public meetings, panel discussions and press events.

State senators signing the letter to Peters include Mary Jo White, R-21st District; Lisa Baker, R-20th District; Lisa Boscola, D-18th District; Patrick Browne, R-16th District; Jane Earll, R-49th District; Mike Folmer, R-48th District; Robert Robbins, R-50th District; Jake Corman, R-34th District; John Eichelberger, Jr., R-30th District; and Jeffrey Piccola, R-15th District.

Click here to read the letter.

– By David Tanner, staff writer