What is the Next Fix for PA’s Transportation Needs?

"…tolling I-80 from border to border is a highly contentious issue and could face substantial difficulties in obtaining Federal approval"-

Allegheny Institute Policy Brief, August 28, 2007

As we pointed out for the better part of the last three years, the state’s plan to ask the Federal government to allow for tolls to be placed on Interstate 80 in order to generate revenues for the state’s roads, bridges, and public transit systems was going to be a long shot. At the time there were other states waiting for permission to levy tolls on previously un-tolled roads, but that was for upgrading and maintaining the roads themselves, not for other transportation needs. That goes without mentioning the negative economic impacts placing tolls on I-80 could have had in the northern corridor.

Near the close of 2007 we suggested that "a major overhaul of the [Act 44] or, better yet, a complete rescission seems to be the best option for Pennsylvania". Yet the state pressed on, ignoring a letter from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in December of 2007 that the plan was not well thought out; the plan was rejected in September of 2008, yet the following May Turnpike officials still felt the application was "viable" and was hoping for a more favorable response from the Obama Administration. That hope was dashed by yesterday’s rejection.

So what follows this episode? The state House Transportation Chairman has said that Act 44 was "plan B" and now there is an indication a special session will be called by the Governor to address possible solutions. Shouldn’t that have been in the works in September of 2008? How did they not get the message?