U.S. To PA: No Tolls on I-80; PA to Self: Damn

Everyone had a plan for the massive amounts of money that would’ve been generated by tolling I-80, except the federal government. Too bad they were the ones making the final decision.

The U.S. Department of Transportation laid the smack down on Gov. Rendell yesterday, telling the state that Route 80 would remain a free road, thus eliminating the potential for an amazing amount of capital projects that had been planned with the EZ Pass payouts.

Of the money that SEPTA wanted, $100 million was going to go to a new Smart Card system (and bring us into the 21st century), $100 million was going to go to reconstructing City Hall station, and $450 million was to go to “other capital projects,” the Inquirer reports.

PennDot says 38 percent of our state’s roads and bridges aren’t up to par (5,600 structurally-deficient bridges, 6,000 miles of road in need of repair), and some of the cash would have put Pennsylvanians to work fixing them up. If elected governor, Joe Hoeffel wanted to use some of the revenue created on I-80 to double the money the state contributes to PennDot for highway and bridge repair (he also wanted to raise the gas tax and the price of auto registration stickers, which would have helped the old “double” speak).

The U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the idea on the basis that tolls on an interstate highway “can be used only to maintain that highway.”

Alas, the budget crisis continues. Yet word on the street is that SEPTA union workers remain happy with their raises.

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