Turnpike Commission should be dismantled, not given additional authority
HARRISBURG, PA — Following the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s (PTC) revised application to toll Interstate 80, the Commonwealth Foundation submitted a letter to the Federal Highway Administration in opposition to granting any authority to the Turnpike Commission to toll additional highways.
“For decades, the PTC has earned a reputation as a haven for patronage, nepotism, inside dealing, waste, inefficiency, and corruption,” wrote Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the CEO, of the Commonwealth Foundation. Brouillette went on to highlight several recent examples of corruption, patronage, no bid contracts, and inefficiency at the Turnpike Commission.
“All other arguments for or against the tolling of I-80 aside, under no circumstances should the PTC be given any additional dominion over Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure,” Brouillette added.
The letter also notes that “the Commonwealth Foundation is a strong supporter of user fees and toll roads to pay for transportation infrastructure.” In fact, the Commonwealth Foundation had previously called on lawmakers and Governor Rendell—if they insist upon tolling I-80—to seek competitive bids for a lease and operation of the highway. “Not only is it bad public policy not to seek competitive bids on such a major transportation project,” Brouillette remarked, “but it will likely cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”
The Commonwealth Foundation has also updated its analysis of toll revenue, debt, and expenditures under the Turnpike Commission’s revised proposal to Toll I-80. That analysis can be found on TurnpikeFacts.com.
Additionally, the Commonwealth Foundation has learned that Congressman Bob Brady is circulating a petition in support of the I-80 tolling plan. “Rep. Brady is one of the chief patrons of the Turnpike Commission, having served as a commissioner and secured a management position for his son—one of many patronage jobs awarded by Joe Brimmeier” remarked Brouillette. “Rep. Brady’s effort only highlights how the beneficiaries of patronage are driving the Turnpike Commission’s proposals for new debt, higher tolls, and more power.”
# # #
A copy of the letter can be found at CommonwealthFoundation.org/docs/Files/FHWAletter.pdf
The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA. TurnpikeFacts.com is an educational project of the Commonwealth Foundation designed to help educate and inform citizens about the costs, benefits, and potential pitfalls of leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike.