Gov Rendell says all of Pennsylvania's transit agencies will get I-80 toll $s

January 6, 2010

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell says "all" transit agencies in the state will benefit from tolls on I-80. Capitolwire out of Harrisburg PA reports that Rendell made the statement at a conference of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania late last year.

Calling claims by northern politicians that I-80 money would all go to transit agencies in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh "a bunch of crap" the outspoken former mayor of Philadelphia and now governor said the toll money would go to transit agencies all over the state.

His statement potentially complicates the application to USDOT for a needed federal permit to toll the interstate since federal legislation under which the Turnpike has applied envisages toll proceeds going back into the I-80 corridor, not into needy agencies spread all over the state.

Indeed federal legislation permitting tolls on interstates is written specifically to prevent tolls from becoming a cash cow for unrelated political constituencies. The only wording allowing money to go outside the corridor being tolled would be an upfront payment to the state for the "fair market value" or an annual return on "fair market value."

The governor also played down the importance of tolling I-80, according to the Capitolwire report, saying it was a "low priority" for him compared to higher license and registration fees and an increase in the state gasoline/diesel tax.

If the Feds don't allow tolling of I-80 to proceed the Turnpike Commission will drop its annual support for non-Turnpike projects from about $900m being paid now to $450m/year.

TOLLROADSnews 2010-01-06

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