Transportation Secretary LaHood: Decision on I-80 Soon

Jan 19, 2010

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today told four members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation that the Transportation Department had been reviewing PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s application for federal tolling authority of Interstate 80 and will “be making a decision very soon.”

The meeting, held in U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson’s office on Capitol Hill, included the Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and Dana Gresham, Assistant Secretary for Government Affairs at the Department.  Representatives Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie, Chris Carney, D-Dimock , and Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, were also in the meeting.

“The tolling threat alone has cast a cloud over future economic decisions by business and industry for our area,” Thompson told LaHood.  “If you approve the tolling of I-80, already turned down twice, you will effectively reroute prosperity around Pennsylvania.”

Dahlkemper reminded the Secretary of a meeting with Pennsylvania state legislators who told stories of their constituents afraid to move forward until the tolling decision is made.  “Our rural area can’t handle another blow to the economy,” said Dahlkemper.

Thompson also reminded the Secretary that this decision could double the scope and size of the corruption laden Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

LaHood said he had talked to Kanjorski a while back at a chance meeting in an airport and that the Representative had told him how important this decision was and had made a strong case.

None of the other representatives from the Department spoke in the meeting.  Although the Members were assured that they would get a “heads up” before the decision comes out.