Pennsylvania bill intended to derail I-80 toll talk

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker has offered a bill to help ensure that Interstate 80 doesn’t become a toll road.

Starting in 2007, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the state Department of Transportation sought federal approval to convert I-80 into a “pay as you go” route as authorized by state law – Act 44.

Over the course of multiple years, the Federal Highway Administration denied three separate attempts to charge tolls on the 313-mile east-west route. The agency cited noncompliance with federal laws and policies governing toll roads.

Citing possible federal efforts to permit charging toll taxes to access existing roadways, Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield, introduced a bill that would forbid handing over state roadways such as I-80 without legislative approval.

“This bill is intended to make sure any future discussions about tolling run a transparent course through state government to avoid surprises and give citizens a strong voice,” Gabler said in a news release.

He also said the bill would help avert “economic uncertainty” that existed following the passage of Act 44, which was detrimental to jobs and economic development along the I-80 corridor.

“The legal time frame to toll Interstate 80 has expired,” Gabler stated. “It is now time to remove all uncertainty and establish that future tolling schemes cannot be implemented without specific legislative approval”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes the conversion of toll-free roads and bridges into tolled facilities.

The bill, HB2378, is in the House Transportation Committee.

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