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The View from the Valley

An Exploration into Town-Gown Relations


Corman: Feds reject I80 tolls

In typical politico style, the State Gov’t has planned all its budgets and so on for the future as if the tolls were already a ‘done deal.’

Not so fast.

Come 2010, we might not see tolls on I-80 afterall. The State didn’t consider the fact that the Feds might not approve it, or that other states have been trying to do the same thing for over 10 years, and still gotten nowhere. But that didn’t stop PA from planning like it was a slam dunk, a classic case of counting your chickens before they hatch.

In any case, the Feds rejection of tolls is a huge win for the moment, lets hope it stays that way:

FEDS SAY “NOT SO FAST” TO PENNSYLVANIA’S EFFORTS TO TOLL I-80

Corman Announces Feds Rejection of PA Application to toll I-80

(HARRISBURG) – State Senator Jake Corman said he is not surprised that the U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday rejected a joint application by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to toll Interstate 80, saying citing a lack of information on a variety of important issues.

Federal Highway Administration Deputy Administrator King Gee wrote to PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission that “In reviewing the application, we conducted a thorough technical analysis of the application’s merits based on the statutory criteria in TEA-21. At this time, the application does not contain all of the information required for a Phase I provisional acceptance, as specified in our guidance, or a conditional provisional approval.”

“The public isn’t buying this idea, and the federal government isn’t buying it either,” Corman said. “The state’s application simply doesn’t make a case for tolling I-80, and even worse, it leaves out important information that makes it even more likely that the federal government will reject this ill-thought-out application.”

Corman, who has been a vocal opponent of tolling I-80 said PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler and PA Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier were notified yesterday by the federal government that it was returning the October 13 application filed by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission because it “does not sufficiently describe the planned reconstruction and rehabilitation project.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation also questioned the fact that PennDOT transferred over $250 million in federal highway transportation money over the last few years to fund other programs including mass transit costs.

And the federal government requested that the state “provide further details explaining how the toll implementation plan takes into account the interests of local, regional and interstate travelers.”

“The simple answer to that request is that it will hurt commuters who drive on I-80, it will have a devastating impact on local economies and it is not in the best interest of our state,” Corman said. “Opponents of this ludicrous funding stream have been saying that it won’t fly, and I’m pleased that the federal government is taking a closer look at the ramifications of this and, most importantly, didn’t rush to approve it.”

Senator Jake Corman, the Senate’s Majority Policy Chairman, represents the 34th Senatorial District, which includes Centre, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry and Union Counties.

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