Thompson Introduces the Keeping Americas Freeways Free Act; Bipartisan Legislation to Prohibit the Tolling of Federal Highways

February 19, 2009
Press Release

DuBois, PA – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Pa., announced today that he has introduced legislation that would prohibit the tolling of federal highways, including Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania.  Thompson issued the following statement on the introduction of the Keeping America’s Freeway’s Free Act (KAFFA):

“The American people currently pay for our Interstates through gas taxes, the Highway Trust Fund, and apportionment taxes on trucks hauling goods. Tolling the Interstate Highway System would not only be a double tax on the American people, but a dangerous step toward slowing the economic growth of Pennsylvania and the entire country during these trying times.

“Tolls are taxes, plain and simple. As a Member of the House Small Business Committee, the last thing small business owners and hard working families along the I-80 corridor need is another tax when some are struggling to heat their homes and put gasoline in their tanks.

“As a State that continues to lose one Congressman every ten years because of population decline, and according to Forbes Magazine is one of the least friendly states in the union to conduct business, I find it troubling that the Commonwealth would continue to head down this path in a futile attempt to toll Interstate 80.

 “The Federal Department of Transportation has rejected the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s (PTC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s I-80 tolling application on two separate occasions – one would hope they had finally got the message.  The Governor and Legislature need to go back to the drawing board with Act 44 and leave tolling I-80 out of the equation.

“The Interstate Highway System – the greatest public works project in history – was built with Federal funding to unite our nation. The Interstate Highway System’s profound effect upon the American economy has contributed significantly to development and improved quality of life through increased economic efficiency and productivity. Today, virtually all Americans have the ability to move quickly within their communities and travel throughout the nation inexpensively.

“The Keeping Americas Freeways Free Act (KAFFA), will preserve this notion and allow for the free flowing of commerce not only in Pennsylvania, but across the nation.”

Among the prime concerns the FHWA had with the plan to toll I-80 was the fact that the application did not meet the legal requirements for the use of toll revenues.  Under Act 44, the Turnpike Commission was required to use toll revenues to pay an annual lease payment to PennDOT. The amount of the payment was an arbitrary number to fill the gaps in the Commonwealth's funding shortfalls; making it the second time the Turnpike Commission had failed to provide a real market value tolling I-80 would create.

Note: For a copy of the September 11, 2008 rejection letter that the Federal Highway Administration issued in response to the Commonwealth’s tolling application or for a copy of H.R. 1071, the Keeping America’s Freeways Free Act, contact Patrick Creighton in Congressman Thompson's Washington Office at 202-225-5121.