New Study Highlights Flaws in I-80 Tolling Plan

A new study on the impact of tolling I-80 in Pennsylvania by Grove City College economist Tracy Miller highlights several flaws in the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s plan to toll the interstate under Act 44.

The analysis finds that drivers on Interstate 80 already pay $50 million more in gas taxes and driver fees for the miles driven on the highway ($130 million to $80 million). Thus the proposed toll

is better understood as a tax or tariff, since much of the revenue will be used for purposes other than maintaining and improving Interstate 80 and since vehicles that use Interstate 80 already pay for using it via fuel taxes and other taxes.

The study also find that targeting the proposed tolling to “out of state” drivers would still impact Pennsylvania businesses and residents – as higher shipping and driving costs would be passed on to consumers and producers. Specific industries such as dairy, lumber, manufacturing, and tourism would be hit by the “dead weight loss” of the new tolls.

The report also looks at the diversion effect – which includes both short diversions to get around toll plazas, and more trips on routes like US 422 and 22. The proposed tolling of I-80 would result in a large number of trucks diverting to these roads, which were not designed for long-distance trucking, and subsequently lead to an increase in motor vehicle fatalities and injuries.

Along with the full report, the executive summary and PowerPoint presentation are available online courtesy the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation.

There are also news stories on the I-80 tolling report and the Turnpike Commission’s tolling plans in the Tribune Review and Post Gazette.