Pa. Resurrects Plans To Put Tolls On I-80
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pennsylvania Turnpike officials are preparing to revive their application to impose tolls on Interstate 80.
Meanwhile, opponents plan to release a study that finds I-80 tolls are unjustified and could lead to an increase in crashes.
The turnpike commission plans to submit supplemental information to the Federal Highway Administration in support of its application to put tolls on I-80, spokesman Carl DeFebo said.
The federal agency rejected the bid 13 months ago because it did not meet legal requirements. But DeFebo said tolls are a key part of a state law passed two years ago to fund highways and public transit.
Under the law, if tolls aren’t imposed or a substitute revenue stream isn’t found, state funding of highways and transit would be cut in half by July, from $900 million annually to $450 million.
Critics of the idea were releasing a study Monday by a Grove City College professor that concludes I-80 drivers pay more than enough in fuel taxes to cover maintenance costs for the 311-mile cross-state highway.
Tracy Miller, an associate professor of economics at the private school, said an increase in the state’s gasoline tax would be a better way to raise the extra road funding. Miller’s study, released Monday, said a 10-cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax would raise about $600 million a year, far more than the tolls would raise.
Turnpike officials estimate an I-80 toll would raise $350 million to $400 million in its first year. The state’s gasoline tax now generates about $65 million annually, turnpike officials contend.