As a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly who voted against Act 44 of 2007 and opposed the tolling of Interstate 80, I must respond to your editorial "Road Warrior: Pennsylvania Must Fight for I-80 Tolling" (March 25).
Your editorial is misguided in the notion that Act 44 - and the tolling of I-80 - is the best solution for transportation funding needs in Pennsylvania. Just last week, we learned that due to the struggling economy, fewer people are traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other toll roads around the country. If I-80 is tolled, it may produce even less revenue than expected.
This year, Act 44 will provide more money for mass transit than for roads and bridges. Far fewer people use mass transit than travel our highways. We will not solve the transportation funding problem until mass transit agencies shoulder an equitable share of the burden.
There are many reasons why I-80 should not be tolled, ranging from legal questions about tolling roads built with federal funding to the devastating financial impact on residents and businesses along the I-80 corridor. Haven't Western and rural Pennsylvania suffered enough? Why is there no interest in adding tolls to highways in urban areas of Pennsylvania?
It is true that hundreds of millions of additional dollars are needed to maintain our roads and bridges. Rather than divide our commonwealth, we must look to creative solutions for funding that fairly distribute costs and benefits. Tolling I-80 is poor public policy that will only dig our state deeper into the hole.
STATE REP. DICK STEVENSON
The writer is co-chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, Task Force on Infrastructure.