We desperately need change here in Pennsylvania. The PA Turnpike long mired in scandal, corruption, and a political patronage machine like no other is one of our most visible posterchild of the need for reform in PA. When the Turnpike opened in 1940 the tolls were supposed to be temporary and only last 10 years. Now we see how truckers are suing the State and Turnpike for their outrageous (and likely illegal tolls) Less than half of your toll money actually is used on the roadway. Now the Turnpike is racking up billions of dollars in additional debt and tolls will be increasing every year by percentages much larger than inflation. Please support me in bringing commonsense reform to Pennsylvania and fighting the entrenched political class.

Post-Gazette Article:

 

Federal lawsuit challenges use of PA Turnpike tolls to pay for transit, seeks $5.8 billion refund

Two national driving groups have filed a federal lawsuit seeking refunds of nearly $6 billion in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls they claim were used illegally to pay for public transit.

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. and the National Motorists Association say it is unconstitutional under federal interstate commerce laws for the turnpike to give the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation $450 million a year to help pay for public transit. The 43-page suit, filed Thursday in the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg by The Cullen Law Firm in Washington, D.C., claims that turnpike tolls only can be used to maintain or expand the roadway that charges the tolls.

The suit seeks a refund of higher tolls paid since 2008 to non-turnpike projects. Another trucking group won a similar lawsuit against New York in 2016 for using toll money to improve the state’s canal system.

The turnpike has raised tolls each of the past 10 years, including a 6 percent increase in January, at least in part to help cover the payments to PennDOT. 

“PTC tolls do not represent a fair approximation of the use of the Turnpike facilities provided, they are excessive in relation to the benefits conferred, and they significantly exceed the costs incurred by PTC to operate and maintain the Pennsylvania Turnpike System,” the suit said.

 

“PTC’s tolls unduly burden interstate commerce by causing the Pennsylvania Turnpike System to be used as a revenue-generating facility designed to underwrite expenses incurred by PennDOT in providing services and facilities throughout the Commonwealth that have no functional relationship to the Pennsylvania Turnpike System.”

 

That means the state is charging unduly high tolls, which is an illegal interference in interstate commerce, the suit claims.

 

The governor’s office, PennDOT and the turnpike commission all declined comment.

“We are reviewing the lawsuit and cannot comment further,” PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Since 2011, the suit claims, the turnpike has collected tolls that amount to more than twice the cost of operating and maintaining the road network. The money given to PennDOT, which is required by state law, has been used to fund public transit and other transportation projects.