If you can't toll one interstate, why not try to toll them all. That idea was brought forth Wednesday in the second in a series of hearings by the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee on filling a $492 million hole in the transportation budget. That shortfall is due in large part to the federal government's rejection of a plan by Pennsylvania to toll Interstate 80.
However, Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier told the committee that in a recent newsletter, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that allowing states to toll interstates might be necessary to provide the funding states need for highway construction and maintenance.
State Senator Richard Kasunic, Democrat from Fayette County and a member of the committee, says he agrees with Brimmeier....
"He pointed out that the Federal Highway Administration is talking about the need to replace and rebuild many of those interstates and the money just isn't there to do it right now, and nobody wants to vote for a tax increase. So, the other alternative would be to toll the interstate system throughout America."
Kasunic says if Pennsylvania would be allowed to toll the interstates and use those revenues to maintain those highways, then state transportation funds earmarked for the interstates could be shifted to "maintain local highways and bridges that are in desperate need of repair."
Kasunic believes Pennsylvania residents are opposed to higher gasoline taxes and increases in license and registration fees.
In addition to the immediate $492 million hole, a recent study indicated that Pennsylvania is about $3.5 billion short annually to fund needed repairs to bridges and roads.