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.
TxDOT plan would convert some interstates to toll roads
Plan includes buying interstates and charging drivers a toll
By POLLY ROSS HUGHES
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - The Texas Department of Transportation is pushing Congress to pass a federal law allowing the state to "buy back" parts of existing interstate highways and turn them into toll roads.
The 24-page plan, outlined in a "Forward Momentum" report that escaped widespread attention when published in February, drew prompt objections Thursday from state lawmakers and activists fighting the spread of privately run toll roads.
"I think it's a dreadful recommendation on the part of the transportation commissioners here in Texas," said Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee Chairman John Carona, R-Dallas.
"I feel confident that legislators in Austin would overwhelmingly be opposed to such an idea," he said. "The simple fact is that taxpayers have already paid for those roadways. To ask taxpayers to pay for them twice is untenable."
Spinning toll roads' asphalt into gold
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are considering leasing them to firms. The states could get billions. But at what cost?
By Paul Nussbaum
Inquirer Staff Writer
What is a turnpike worth?
The answer to that billion-dollar question is critical in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where venerable state-owned toll roads now are being viewed less as ribbons of commerce than as streams of revenue.
Political leaders in both states are considering leasing the toll roads to private operators. What the states receive is clear: lots of cash. What they lose is the subject of intense debate.
Estimates of the roads' value vary wildly - from $2 billion to $30 billion for the Pennsylvania Turnpike and from $12 billion to $38 billion or more for the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Because there are few examples to look to for guidance, the two states are essentially guinea pigs in their own experiments.