Ed Comes out Swinging

Ed Rendell isn’t happy he’s getting screwed on putting toll booths every 30 miles along I-80.

Mr. Rendell said he “was shocked and disappointed” to learn of the congressional action, which is not yet final. He will urge Democrats in Congress to remove the ban on federal funds for I-80, but he said that may not happen until October.

Meanwhile, he added, “we can’t afford to wait” to find a way to generate nearly $1 billion a year in new funding for fixing roads and bridges and aiding deficit-ridden mass transit agencies, including the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Ed can’t wait to get his hands on more of your money!  But wait, he has a plan B:

Within 30 days he plans to ask private companies to offer bids on how much they would pay to run the Pennsylvania Turnpike for up to 99 years. He thinks such a lease could generate up to $1.7 billion a year for 10 years — considerably more than would be obtained under House Bill 1590.

Lawmakers have resisted the turnpike leasing plan in the past.  I may actually not be opposed to it if someone can show me a good plan, and tell me how we’re going to get tolls, which generate 400 million a year in profit now, to generate 1.7 billion a year in profit, without massive toll increases.   I am not as concerned as our legislators about foreigners in the toll booths.   Foreigners work cheap!   You don’t have to speak English well to calculate change!

Either way, this was a great move by the Pennsylvania GOP.  Rendell burned a lot of political capital with that furlough of state workers, and it looks like they inked the deal to end the standoff, knowing full well they could block it at the federal level.   Normally I’d call this kind of stuff sleazy, but furloughing state workers to get your way is pretty sleazy too.

3 thoughts on “Ed Comes out Swinging”

  1. Ya’ know, the more I read about this type of crap the more I think it is a ‘Rob Peter to pay Paul’ deal. I , for one, am tired of it… we need more accountability for government spending.

  2. I have crossed Pa. on the pike more than 300 times. Work on the road has been in progress every single time. Same for I-80. Somebody is getting money from somewhere. However, that is not the gist of this comment.

    I would point to Ohio, where the turnpike is privately owned. That’s right! The state does not own it. It is always in good shape with a minimum of fuss getting from one side of the state to the other. Private enterprise is much more effficient.

    My only heartburn with the Ohio pike is that they have dedicated it to the State Police for enforcement of traffic regulations. If it is private, it should be private, not a revenue enhancer for the state. Still it is a much better roadway with lower tolls than those in Pa.

  3. Here’s the stupid thing. The PAGuv wants to toll I-80 because of the “truckers who use it without paying for its maintenance”. Isn’t the POINT of federal highway money to pay for maintenance of roads whose users don’t pay taxes to the locality in which the highway is? Liekwise, the money ISN’T only going to maintain I-80, it’s going to maintain purely-PA infrastructure (unless SEPTA runs trains into NJ, in which case they should set it up the way PATH is set up to share revenue and expenses between NY and NJ – I don’t know enough about that part of PA/NJ).

    Of course, I don’t know how DE and MD get off tolling on I-95 either. I do know how NJ gets to toll portions of I-95 in NJ and PA gets to toll i-76; in both cases the toll roads predate the interstate highway system :)

    Likewise, much of the infrastructure for NYC and surrounding areas predates the Interstate System, and therefore tolls what is otherwise interstate highways (or in some cases doesnt’ carry actual interstate highways despite the system being non-contiguous because of that).

    /me has a minor raodgeek hobby :)

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