I-80 Lease Signed After Deadline

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s statements support Commonwealth Foundation’s assertions

HARRISBURG, PA — Today, the Commonwealth Foundation reasserted its claim that a lease agreement between the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to toll Interstate 80 is not in compliance with Act 44 of 2007.

In an October 17 news release, the Commonwealth Foundation noted:

According to Section 7, Paragraph 8915.3 of Act 44, “The department and the commission shall enter into a lease agreement relating to Interstate 80 prior to October 15, 2007.” No such lease agreement was reached until October 16, 2007.

In response, the PTC claimed:

Contrary to the Commonwealth Foundation press release sent out earlier today, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wants to reassure that all the Act 44 requirements on the signing of the I-80 lease agreement between the two agencies were met.

In support of the Commonwealth Foundation’s claim are media reports from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The (Philadelphia) Bulletin in which officials at both the PTC and PennDOT admitted that the lease agreement was not completed “prior to October 15, 2007,” as required by law.

Devil in details of I-80 toll planPittsburgh Post-Gazette (October 16, 2007):

Officials of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and state Department of Transportation expected to work late into the night yesterday [October 15] on a landmark lease that would cover converting Interstate 80 into a toll road.

Lawyers thought they had the agreement for the unique ‘public-public partnership’ hammered out, but PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said they were still working on details.

I-80 Toll Plan Should be ‘Null and Void‘” The Bulletin (October 18, 2007):

On Monday, a PTC spokesman told The Bulletin the lease was signed shortly after 10p.m [on October 15].

The Commonwealth Foundation is exploring whether or not a court injunction can be sought if Governor Rendell does not declare the lease agreement null and void for failure to comply with the law.

# # #

The Commonwealth Foundation is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.

– 30 –