HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said today (Tuesday) he will call a special session of the General Assembly to address transportation funding following the federal government’s refusal to allow Pennsylvania to toll Interstate 80.
Today’s decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to deny Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80 will significantly reduce transportation funding, the governor said.
“We have to deal with the fallout of this decision; there is no way that we can just do nothing,” Rendell said. “I’m going to call a special session of the legislature to address our transportation challenges. We’ll look at every option on the table. This is a dire situation with significant consequences.”
Act 44 of 2007 called for the tolling of I-80 and additional revenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to provide $532 million per year for road and bridge repairs and $414 million per year for public transit agencies across the state.
Without I-80 toll revenues, funding for roads and bridges will be cut by about $300 million per year. This means PennDOT will not be able to repair about 100 bridges and 300 miles of roads each year. Funding for 73 public transit systems that provide more than 400 million rides a year to residents in all 67 counties will drop by $160 million per year, resulting in service cuts and fewer capital improvement projects.
Despite record state and federal investments in highways and bridges in the past seven years, Pennsylvania still has approximately 5,600 structurally deficient bridges — the highest number of any state — and approximately 6,000 miles of roads that are in need of repair.
“The people of Pennsylvania understand there is no free ride. They know what happened in Minneapolis and New Orleans,” he added. “People understand that if they want safe bridges, good roads, and potholes eliminated, you cannot wait for the pothole fairy to do it – you’ve got to pay for it.”
The governor said a date for the special legislative session has not yet been set.