The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 May 2008

Feed your E-Z Pass

It's going to cost more to drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, though it's not certain who's going to collect the extra tolls.

Governor Ed Rendell's much-touted Act 44 [link goes to PDF file], passed last year, allegedly came with a 25-percent hike in 2010 and 3 percent annually thereafter, although no actual numbers are mentioned in the Act as approved.

Act 44 specifies that Interstate 80, the other east-west route in the Commonwealth, will be converted to a toll road. The Feds must approve any such action; so far they haven't. Which leaves room for Plan B: the Turnpike would be leased to a joint venture including Citigroup and Spanish toll-road operator Albertis for 75 years for total payments of $12.8 billion. If the Pennsylvania legislature approves, the lease agreement permits Pennsylvania Transport Partners, the name of the joint venture, to hike the toll 25 percent at the beginning of 2009, and 2.5 percent or the amount of the increase in the Consumer Price Index, whichever be greater, each year thereafter. The Governor has said that if the lease goes through there will be no need for tolls on I-80.

Regardless of whether the Turnpike Authority or PTP is doing the collections, the toll from the Ohio State Line to the Delaware River, now $22.75, is expected to rise to more than $35 in ten years' time.

Posted at 8:01 AM to Driver's Seat