Wednesday, the Alliance to Stop I-80 Tolling responded to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's "I-80 Needs Assessment and Capital Program" which was presented Monday. Ed Edwards, spokesman for the Alliance to Stop I-80Tolling, said "the Alliance recognizes I-80 needs some repairs, but show me a Pennsylvania road that doesn't."
Edwards added, "There are simply better options for providing transportation funding than tolling I-80. Other options generate more money with less hardship. Once toll booths are up on I-80 local economies will be slowly crippled and prices of goods and services throughout the entire Commonwealth will rise."
During Monday's Turnpike press conference, McCormick Taylor's Barry Schoch admitted that the money raised from the tolls would NOT go "100%" towards funding I-80. The Federal Highway Administration says IF tolling I-80 is approved the toll money must go towards I-80, but this is not the Turnpike's plan.
I-80 toll money will go to funding bridge and road projects throughout the state. This will enable other funds once designated for bridge/road repair to be redirected towards mass transit. "Essentially I-80 toll money will end up paying for mass transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh," Edwards explained.
Schoch claimed tolls on the Turnpike and tolls on I-80 would be comparable. However, Act 44, states, "Tolls shall not be subject to supervision or regulation by any other State commission, board, bureau or agency." Edwards said, "In other words the Turnpike Commission can raise tolls as high as they want to."
"Unlike I-80, the Turnpike was built as a toll road. Individuals who built houses and established businesses along the Turnpike recognized this as an added cost of living and cost of doing business. This is not true of the families and businesses that located along I-80," added Edwards.
The public's voice has not been heard on tolling I-80. Act 44 was enacted without public hearings. Citizens and businesses have not been given adequate opportunity to comment on the issue. Their views have not been properly considered or other options reasonably explored.
The Alliance to Stop the Tolling of I-80 is supported by the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Berwick Area Chamber of Commerce, DuBois Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton County Economic Partnership, Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth, Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce, Titusville Chamber of Commerce, Union County Economic Development Corporation, Berwick Industrial Development Association, Columbia County Industrial Development Authority, Manufacturers Association of Central Pennsylvania and Mountaintop on the Move. For more information, visit www.noi80tolls.com