The Sunday Times reports:
Pennsylvania officials plan to build up to 10 toll areas along the 311-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in the next three years to help pay for road, bridge and mass transit projects and subsidies. …
Pennsylvaniaâ€™s plan is to generate about $950 million a year through the sale of bonds backed by tollway revenue and other state sources over the first 10 years, with about $500 million going to road and bridge projects throughout the state, and the remaining $450 million going to subsidize mass transit in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other cities.
State officials say that about 70 percent of the 21 million vehicles that travel I-80 annually are from out of state, and 40 percent are commercial trucks.
This is completely outrageous.
The owners of the cars and trucks driving on Pennsylvania’s portion of Route 80 already paid for its construction with their federal income taxes. And they continue to support its upkeep by paying federal fuel taxes.
There is no justification whatsoever for the greedy, grasping pols who infest Harrisburg to reach out for additional revenues for highway maintenance. Funds are already amply provided for just that purpose through both state and federal systems of taxation.
And the proposed transfer of wealth from far-from-affluent rural Pennsylvania to the Commonwealth’s two largest cities is absolutely unconscionable.
Making I-80 a toll road also violates the principle that at least one major route ought to be free of tolls, providing travellers some choice about paying toll charges. The only East-West alternative route across Pennsylvania, Route 76, is already a toll road.
When you read the Times article, too, you’ll find that Arlen Spector has declined to oppose this loathsome scheme. Whenever I read about the political genius of Karl Rove, I remember the craven refusal of George W. Bush and the National Party to support the conservative Pat Toomey against Spector in the 2004 Republican Primary. Spector defeated Toomey, even with George W. Bush’s support, only by 51-49 per cent. There might be a real Republican senator from Pennsylvania if Karl Rove was really so smart.