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Old 07-18-2007, 10:44 PM   #1
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Default Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

On I-80

http://www.centredaily.com/116/story/155163.html

Plan to toll I-80 approved
By Adam Smeltz - asmeltz@centredaily.com

It's all but certain: Tolls appear to be en route for Interstate 80.

Within two years, the 311-mile stretch that cuts across Pennsylvania could see as many as 10 toll plazas under a state bill approved this week. Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to sign the legislation today, though the federal government has yet to sign off on the tolls.

The state House approved the transportation bill Tuesday with a 124-79 vote; on Monday, the Senate voted 30-19 on the measure.

In addition to I-80 tolls, the bill calls for $750 million in spending this year on highway and bridge repairs, plus on mass transit systems statewide. The plan is designed to grow the transportation spending over the next 10 years, relying heavily on toll revenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-80.

Supporters on Tuesday applauded what they called a needed investment in the state infrastructure and in mass transit. More than 20 percent of the state's bridges are structurally deficient, and more than 8,500 miles of state-maintained pavement are in poor condition, according to the state Department of Transportation.

But three Centre County legislators decried the bill's approach to I-80. State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state Reps. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, and Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, all voted against the legislation.

Corman said the toll plazas -- at least one of which could land in Centre County -- could push highway traffic onto rural, secondary roads.

That "goes against the purpose of the interstate, which was to get traffic off the rural roads," Corman said.

Beyond that, he said, lawmakers were "asked to vote blindly, essentially," on the tolls. The legislation would give the Turnpike Commission the ability to set toll rates and toll-plaza locations.

It also would authorize more than $13 billion in new borrowing. That money would help fund the transportation efforts until a 25 percent toll rate increase takes effect on the turnpike in 2009. New revenue from I-80 tolls, once established, would also staunch the borrowing.

Corman said using borrowed money for operating costs is "just bad public policy."

Still, he said, if the toll plazas move forward, he will try to prevent them from having an adverse impact on commuter traffic.

Benninghoff called the transportation bill a "half-baked" approach that left too many unanswered questions. He pointed to a PennDOT study on the prospect of I-80 tolls.

"Based on the long timetable to realize benefits, the high costs of converting the road to toll and the fact that a financial break-even point is decades away, it is recommended that converting I-80 to a toll road not be pursued at this time," the study reads.

The study also suggests that the trucking industry and communities and residents along I-80 are likely to oppose the toll idea.

"I think inevitably we're going to see one or two (toll plazas) somewhere throughout" the county, Benninghoff said. Under the transportation bill, he said, the state may begin borrowing money for I-80 changes without having received final authorization from the federal government.

"To me, it's risky financing to be imposing on future generations of Pennsylvania," Benninghoff said.

State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, also voted against the transportation bill. State Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-Houtzdale, voted for it.

Conklin, who opposed the measure, said edits in the legislation allowed the possibility of too many toll booths, said Tor Michaels, his chief of staff.

For now, Michaels said, Conklin would have supported the addition of I-80 toll plazas only at the borders with Ohio and New Jersey.

Doug Hecox, a Federal Highway Administration spokesman, said the federal government maintains several highway toll options.

He said the state can work with the FHA to find the one most suitable. Under any scenario, Hecox said, he thinks any toll revenue generated by a highway must be returned directly to that portion of road.

That can allow the state to commit the funds once used for highway maintenance to other priorities, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Adam Smeltz can be reached at 231-4631.
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Old 07-19-2007, 07:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

I dont have to travel on I-80 when I go home so I cant say from the vantage point that it effects me. But I do kind of like this if it will make the roads safer. Pa is know to have the worst roads in America. When I cross the Mason-Dixon line to get back home I can tell just because of the roads. And hopefully they put some of that money back into fixing I-80 because in the winter there are far too many deaths and accidents on that roads. Im sure they will create an EZ-pass system much like Md, NJ, NY and the turn pike uses. So the hit shouldnt be all that bad on the commuters who use I-80.
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Old 07-19-2007, 07:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

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Originally Posted by Buzz05 View Post
I dont have to travel on I-80 when I go home so I cant say from the vantage point that it effects me. But I do kind of like this if it will make the roads safer. Pa is know to have the worst roads in America. When I cross the Mason-Dixon line to get back home I can tell just because of the roads. And hopefully they put some of that money back into fixing I-80 because in the winter there are far too many deaths and accidents on that roads. Im sure they will create an EZ-pass system much like Md, NJ, NY and the turn pike uses. So the hit shouldnt be all that bad on the commuters who use I-80.
We already have an EZ Pass system for the turnpike.
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Old 07-19-2007, 07:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Well something has to be done. That road is always in horrendous condition.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:24 AM   #5
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Tolls on I-80?!?

[YOUTUBE]a1Y73sPHKxw[/YOUTUBE]
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Ohh man gotta love that chipmunk.
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

that chipmunk crack me up.
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Old 07-22-2007, 12:36 AM   #8
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Being from NJ tolls are part of life
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Old 07-22-2007, 08:18 AM   #9
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelerbackr4life View Post
Being from NJ tolls are part of life
I almost never run into a toll unless driving on the turnpike.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: Get ready to be tolled in Pennsylvania.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzz05 View Post
I dont have to travel on I-80 when I go home so I cant say from the vantage point that it effects me. But I do kind of like this if it will make the roads safer. Pa is know to have the worst roads in America. When I cross the Mason-Dixon line to get back home I can tell just because of the roads. And hopefully they put some of that money back into fixing I-80 because in the winter there are far too many deaths and accidents on that roads. Im sure they will create an EZ-pass system much like Md, NJ, NY and the turn pike uses. So the hit shouldnt be all that bad on the commuters who use I-80.


They can say what they want, but for the life of me, I can speak for I-80 from the Ohio State Line to the Clarion, and Dubois Exit, that I-80 is in great shape. And PA has the EZ Pass system on there Toll roads already.. Have had it for as long as NJ and NY has had it. Worse roads? I see roads in Ohio way worse than ours. No, some of the State and back roads are pretty bad. The Turnpike is n't real bad, just road the entire Turnpike last week.
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