In a bid to bolster support for tolling I-80 the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is releasing details of a $2.5 billion ten year capital spending plan. This is about four times the current level of spending on the 500km (311 mile) interstate which traverses the state east-west.
I very much appreciate your articles on I-80 tolling in Pennsylvania and the fiasco of Act 44. There is no question that the tolling of I-80 was thought to be an easy bailout by the leadership of both parties in Harrisburg for the self inflicted transportation woes of the State. I applaud TOLLROADSnews for exposing the fiasco, especially the self preservation role of the patronage polluted and scandal ridden Turnpike Commission.
However, I have trouble agreeing with the below quote from your most recent I-80 article.
The Federal Highway Administration's chief counsel James D Ray has sent a discouraging letter to Pennsylvania saying that they have made no decision on the application to toll I-80, but that other candidates for the limited tolling authority or 'slot' in federal law have been promised priority. These are various tolling programs under the Corridors of the Future (CoF) program.
Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) and the Turnpike Commission announced today in a joint press release they have signed the 50 year lease agreement for tolling I-80 as provided for by state Act 44. The second sentence of the press release states: "Under Act 44, the commission will transfer $83.3 billion to PennDOT for transportation projects throughout the state (over the 50 years of the lease)."
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has taken down its fighting Public-Public Partnership website devoted to attacking the Governor's privatization plan. In its place there is a new website to put the Commission's line on tolling I-80 and Act 44, the state enabling law for the Turnpike's vastly expanded role.
The new site is http://www.paturnpike.com/i80/
The USDOT has received the request from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to toll I-80. The five page request made in the name of Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier is called an Expression of Interest and is addressed to the Pricing and Tolling Team within the Office of Operations at the Federal Highway Administration, although US secretary of transportation, Mary Peters, will make the ultimate decision.