Rejection of I-80 tolls means tough decisions, Philadelphia Inquirer

April 8, 2010

Bridge"The Federal Highway Administration's rejection of Interstate 80 tolling this week calls for some hard decisions by Pennsylvania's government. We'll soon find out if our leaders are up to the challenge.

Three years ago, in response to a looming crisis in transportation funding, Pennsylvania's General Assembly passed Act 44, a forward-thinking piece of legislation that balanced support for highways and mass transit. But the legislature balked at raising needed revenue through taxes and user fees.

Instead, lawmakers came up with a risky plan that depended on converting I-80 into a toll road, raising the existing tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and issuing bonds to be paid off by future toll revenues. The catch was that federal approval was required to toll I-80.

Washington's latest rejection of this tolling request leaves a gaping hole of $450 million in the state's transportation funding, sending politicians back to the drawing board." For the rest of Ed Wilson's op-ed, please click here.