When was I-80 lease signed?

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is claiming they complied with Act 44 deadlines, and impugns our news release on the issue. In an October 17 news release, the PTC stated,

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.

Our press release stated,

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.

This statement was based on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation news release put out mid-day on October 16 announcing a lease agreement. Statements made by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission indicate that the lease agreement was signed late on October 15. While the actual date contained in our statement may have been erroneous, an October 15th signing still fails to comply with Act 44.

The Bulletin reports:

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

On October 16 (posted at 2:12 am) the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

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.

A very simple bill could fix the problem, simply amending Act 44 to add “on” in front of “prior to”. Of course, such a bill would allow legislators to completely re-examine Act 44 and transportation funding – without Dwight Evans being able to say “It’ll never get out of my committee, put it that way