Pennsylvania governor: Turnpike lease needs ‘serious consideration’

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Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, in his 2008-2009 executive budget address on Tuesday, Feb. 5, laid out his administration’s key initiatives — among them, the repair of the state’s aging transportation infrastructure — and the corresponding budget allocated to address these issues.

Rendell called for legislators and citizens to give “serious consideration” to the leasing of the Pennsylvania Turnpike as a means to dedicate more funding to the state’s infrastructure, and stated he will not repeal the authority to impose tolls on Interstate 80.

Jim Runk, president of Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said Wednesday, Feb. 6, that his group applauds Rendell’s ongoing effort to find a way to fund much-needed improvements for the state’s highway infrastructure, but that citizens who are unsatisfied with proposals for leases and tolls should accept the need for alternative funding mechanisms.

“The public has soured on the proposals of privatizing the Turnpike and tolling I-80, an indication that these suggestions are not the way to solve the complex issues facing communities along our central arteries,” Runk said. “We suggest Pennsylvanians consider truly equitable funding mechanisms — such as increasing the fuel tax and/or modernizing the outdated oil franchise tax — as means to restore our infrastructure.”

Runk said PMTA looks forward “to continuing the work initiated by our elected officials and fellow citizens to identify and implement a solution that will repair one of our greatest assets — our state’s infrastructure. Let’s keep Pennsylvania moving now and in the future.”