No immediate fiscal crisis?

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on the drop in transportation funding due to the rejection of the Turnpike Commission’s I-80 tolling plan.

Under Act 44, the Turnpike Commission will borrow billions to pay PennDOT hundreds of millions each year. Had the I-80 plan been accepted, the Turnpike Commission would have paid $500 million for highways and bridges and $400 million for mass transit systems after fiscal year 2010. But with the rejection of the I-80 tolling plan, those payment drop to $200 million for highways and $250 million for transit.

Some in Harrisburg think they’ve got time to deal with this problem.

“There’s no immediate urgency,” said state Rep. Joe Markosek, a Monroeville Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee.


“There is no immediate fiscal crisis, so there is no reason to jump into the sale of the turnpike at this time,” said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County.

However, all of this time is borrowed time and borrowed money by the Turnpike Commission. Can they pay it off with toll increases of 25% in January 2009 and 3% increases thereafter? Time will tell. If they can’t, tolls will have to go up even further to generate even less money than the $12.8 billion lease.