A study of the proposed tolling of the Pennsylvania portion of Interstate 80 finds such a move will increase accidents, raise consumer prices and place an unfair burden on truck drivers. Grove City College Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Tracy Miller was asked to do the study by a group of chambers of commerce.
Miller says tolling I-80 would negatively impact four groups. First, he says trucks and cars already pay their fair share through gas taxes. He says trucks, especially, pay enough because the state requires them to also pay for each mile they drive in Pennsylvania. Second, he says a large number of businesses rely on I-80 to ship and travel, without having to worry about tolls. Adding tolls would ultimately result in businesses increasing prices, lowering wages, and possibly laying-off workers. He says businesses, workers, and consumers would be negatively affected. Third, he says crashes in the state would increase because people would find alternative routes that are not major highways, which are where most accidents take place. And fourth, he says the toll rates will not be enough to shore up the state’s sagging transportation budget.
Miller says there are many alternatives to this problem, but the most obvious one would be to raise the gas tax by a few cents. He says increasing it by ten cents per gallon would raise about the same amount of money as reasonable toll revenue would raise.
The PA Department of Transportation says it will be submitting additional information to support its application to toll I-80. Its first application was rejected by the federal Department of Transportation because it was deemed to be incomplete.