Pennsylvania concessionaire rep calls for public debates with Turnpike Commission
By Peter Samuel
A statement today issued by Pennsylvania Transportation Partners (PTP) the Abertis-Citi concessionaire group calls on the Turnpike Commission to engage in a series of debates on a lease versus Act 44 - the state law tolling I-80 and keeping the mainline in the hands of the Commission.
The statement quotes PTP adviser Jim Courtovich: "We call on Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier to meet with us on Monday to map out a schedule of forums to bring the facts to the people. This is a serious debate - we're talking about historic funding to help fix roads and bridges - so lives are at stake. It should be heard by the public and not buried by legislative tricks to favor special interests."
Since Courtovich has joined the concessionaire group their statements have taken on a feisty tone as other parts of the statement indicate:
"The Turnpike Commission's actions this week prove that they will do whatever is necessary to protect the status quo by trying to kill any type of public discussion. They don't want the public to hear all the ways the Turnpike would be improved under a lease agreement. They don't want people to know that driver and roadway safety could be improved with the installation of a fiber-optic network; that travel along the Turnpike could be smoother and more efficient with better electronic tolling; and that proper maintenance schedules could be implemented resulting in better highway efficiencies. They are doing everything in their power - including using toll revenues to pay for influential lobbyists - to protect their jobs."
"Today we call on the Turnpike Commission to join with us in a series of public forums all across the state to compare the lease with Act 44 and other proposals that are being considered - and let the facts stand on their own. Those facts will prove that, when compared to Act 44, the lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike would provide more money for infrastructure; eliminates the need for tolls on I-80; and calls for less of an increase of tolls on the Turnpike than what the Commission has already scheduled. Further, the lease gives union workers the same rights and the state police and emergency services still protect the roadways."
Courtovich is a Washington DC area based public relations man.
So far no response from the Turnpike Commission.
Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier, a feisty debater himself, might well agree to forums. Vice-chairman Timothy Carson, a lawyer, is also a forceful advocate for the Commission.
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