The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rejected the application to erect tolls on Interstate 80 submitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission because it “doesn’t meet statutory and technical requirements.”

Jim Runk, president of Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA), issued the following statement in response to this announcement:

“The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association is encouraged that the federal government rejected Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80, one of the Commonwealth’s central arteries and greatest assets. Throughout this process, we, along with many others in the highway community, have opposed the tolling of I-80 because of the burden it would place on our residents, businesses and commuters.

“With this development, Gov. Rendell will once again pitch privatization of the Pennsylvania Turnpike as the only available option to generate revenues to repair our infrastructure. While the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association remains committed to viable, long-term solutions that best serve the interests of Pennsylvania’s citizens and business community, we are adamant that forfeiting control of the Turnpike to a for-profit motivated entity is definitely not the answer. This development should not be seen as an invitation for the Commonwealth to try to quickly apply an alternative funding scheme to address our infrastructure needs.

“Pennsylvania’s leaders should consider all options, including traditional, equitable and efficient funding mechanisms such as fuel taxes, to address the Commonwealth’s infrastructure needs. Privatizing the Turnpike for 75 years is not in the public’s best interest. Such an arrangement is nothing more than a loan obligation that must be paid back by future generations

“With the federal government planning to address national surface transportation infrastructure needs in 2009, we should be leery of speeding forward with a plan that does not take federal solutions into account. We all agree that Pennsylvania’s infrastructure demands our attention now, but before we sell our greatest public asset to a for-profit, foreign entity, we should grant our legislators the time to consider the implications. Otherwise, we risk shirking our responsibility to keep Pennsylvania competitive for the future.”