U.S. Rep. John Peterson says the federal government has decided to reject Pennsylvania's plan to toll Interstate 80.
"This is the end. They cannot toll 80," Peterson told the Centre Daily Times.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters says she's going to reject the proposal because it doesn't meet statutory and technical requirements, Peterson said..
Peterson called the decision "a boon for the business community, specifically, and the traveling public in Pennsylvania."
It's been clear for months that the $12.8 billion Abertis/Citi concession proposal was not going to be seriously considered in the legislature as long as the competing Act 44/I-80 toll plan was still alive. Looks like prospects for the concession just increased significantly.
And for one-stop shopping, don't forget that our colleagues at the Commonwealth Foundation have created the extremely informative (and just plain cool) TurnpikeFacts.com website.
UPDATE: No link yet, but here's the text of Rep. Peterson's press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2008
Application Denied: I-80 to Remain Toll-Free
Peterson comments on FHWA's decision to deny Pennsylvania's tolling application
Washington, DC - U.S. Representative John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, the leading force to keep Interstate 80 toll-free in Pennsylvania, released the following statement upon receiving word that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has rejected the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissions application for tolling authority of Interstate 80:
"Fifteen months ago, when I received word that the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 44 at the behest of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), Congressman Phil English and I embarked on a crusade to keep I-80 toll free.
"I have repeatedly stated that the tolling of Interstate 80 would kill the future economic viability of the Commonwealth. Today, the Department of Transportation agreed. According to Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, the application to toll I-80 did not meet the technical and statutory requirements set forth by law.
"It's time for the Governor and State Legislature to stop using highway funds for mass transit and other non-highway related issues and get serious about fixing our roads and bridges. Until that occurs, Pennsylvania will continue to find itself in a transportation funding crisis.
"Today, the 'Closed for Business' sign has been removed from Pennsylvania and the residents and business community along the I-80 corridor can now move forward without this burdensome cloud hanging over the Commonwealth.
"This decision is final. The legal decision rendered today by the FHWA is not subject to appeal and the application can not be resubmitted. Game over. The people of Pennsylvania have won this monumental battle."