I-80 toll plans moving forwardThe Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will take over operation of I-80 and turn the freeway into a toll road under terms of a 50-year lease signed late Monday.
The lease with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was signed just before a midnight deadline set by the legislature. Tolls could be in place by 2010 if permission is obtained from the Federal Highway Administration.
The state's two highway agencies made formal application for that approval on Saturday. In the application, the turnpike agency said it planned to double the money available for I-80 repairs and upgrades over the next decade to $2 billion.
The state's plan envisions as many as 10 toll booths between New Jersey and Ohio, with an initial cost of about $25 for motorists to drive the entire 311-mile highway.
The I-80 tolls would be set at the turnpike's rate, which is anticipated to be about 8 cents per mile in three years, for cars. That would represent a 33 percent increase from the current turnpike toll rate, which now averages about 6 cents per mile. (Tolls would be 23 cents per mile for trucks weighing 30,001 to 45,000 pounds.)
Tolls on I-80 are part of a plan created last July by the legislature to raise about $965 million more per year over the next 10 years for highways, bridges and mass transit. The new law, Act 44, has been under fire from northern Pennsylvanians along the I-80 corridor who fear it will hurt the economy of the region.