Oberlander Commends FHWA for Rejecting I-80 Tolling and Choosing The Rule of Law Over Big Government Peer Pressure

State Representative Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong) today commended the Federal Highway Transportation Commission (FHWA) for  weighing in on the side of local drivers and regional job creators by once again rejecting the joint application submitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to toll Interstate 80. 

“As someone who has dual experience fighting against the tolling of I-80 as both a Clarion County commissioner and now as a state representative, I could not be more pleased to report that the FHWA has once again refused to cave into the intense state and federal pressure that it was receiving to ignore a crystal clear federal statute that forbids toll revenue being used to subsidize mass transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as we have maintained all along,” said Oberlander.  “I equally applaud my neighboring legislative colleagues, U.S. Congressmen Glenn Thompson, and so many other regional organizations and community leaders that have come together and have logged countless extra miles to make today’s victory possible.” 

 Both previous FHWA rejections came under the Republican administration of President George W. Bush.  Governor Ed Rendell and many other proponents for the 1-80 tolling scheme had hoped that the new administration under Democrat President Barack Obama might approve the application along strictly partisan lines. 

“Today’s victory sends another long overdue message, that the time for the governor, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission to accept ‘NO’ as the final answer on the question of imposing I-80 tolls is now,” said Oberlander.   “Of course, the bigger question is will they ever listen to the ever-growing number of diverse and expert sources that have documented in no uncertain terms that the people of Clarion and Armstrong counties can’t afford the blatantly obvious economic consequences of Act 44, the businesses operating or wanting to relocate to the I-80 corridor can’t afford this and, most importantly, the people of Pennsylvania can’t afford this?”   

In late December, Oberlander once again traveled to Washington, D.C., with a group of state legislators at a point in time when the approval of I-80 tolls appeared imminent.

During this meeting before the FHWA, Oberlander and her legislative colleagues again emphasized that Act 44 should be rejected due to its major failure to adhere to federal statute that explicitly prohibits toll revenue being used to support mass transit in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or any other major U.S. city.   

According to Oberlander, this decision once again reflects the FHWA following the letter of the law.   She also again cautioned that the battle to prevent I-80 tolling will never be fully resolved until Act 44 of 2007 is repealed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 

“Although this decision again makes it clear that the governor, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission should not waste any more taxpayer dollars by resubmitting an application that has now been rejected on three separate occasions, that does not mean that they won’t keep trying to find a way to accomplish their tax-and-spend agenda,” said Oberlander.   “I will continue to work to ensure that Act 44 and the tolling of I-80 becomes a dead issue that can never be resurrected again by any fiscally irresponsible administration.   The only way to kill Act 44 is for the Pennsylvania Legislature to repeal Act 44 once and for all.” 

Rep. Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(814) 226-9000
(717) 772-9908
Contact: Ty McCauslin
(717) 772-9979

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