Media & Public Relations

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Carl DeFebo
Manager, Media & Public Relations
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
Desk (717) 920-7176

July 22, 2008

Pa. Turnpike Resubmits Tolling Application

Document outlines aggressive plan to rebuild 50-year-old highway.

HARRISBURG, PA. (July 22, 2008) - Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier announced that the Commonwealth's amended Phase1 application seeking authority to toll Interstate 80 was resubmitted to the Harrisburg district office of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) this morning.

"In collaboration with Gov. Rendell and PennDOT, we've delivered our application earlier than intended after reassurances from the FHWA that planning organization consultation - now being undertaken by the commission - was not needed as part of this resubmission," Brimmeier said. "Following an in-depth physical-condition assessment of I-80 conducted in partnership with PennDOT, all parties have signed off and we're presenting a comprehensive document to the federal government."

The cornerstone of the amended application is a more detailed I-80 improvement plan. If granted approval, the Turnpike will quadruple current capital spending, investing $2.5 billion in the next decade to rebuild the 311-mile highway.

More than half of I-80 has exceeded its design life, so the bridges and pavement must be reconstructed from the ground up. The new spending plan - developed from the exhaustive, six-month engineering analysis - includes construction of two interchanges linking I-99 and I-80, the refurbishment of 80 percent of the roadway and replacement of 60 original bridges in only the first decade of the Turnpike's 50-year I-80 lease.

Besides the I-80 needs assessment and improvement plan, the amended Phase1 application also includes other information requested by the FHWA in its December 2007 letter, including particulars on the proposed open-road tolling system, implementation schedule, revenue projections, lease payments and issuance of bonds.

"We're confident that we've made a compelling case for FHWA approval, and we expect to continue to work with agency staff as they review our application," Brimmeier said. "This revision contains much more in-depth information than our initial submittal, which necessitated a six-week review."

Project officials are now meeting with metropolitan and rural planning organizations across I-80 to review the capital plan and get feedback on potential toll-collection sites. But a recent FHWA letter clarified that such a step is not required at this time. In August, the Turnpike expects to file a supplement to the Phase1 application outlining the results of those planning-organization meetings. With that, the commission hopes to secure Phase 1 approval to toll I-80 under the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP).

If the I-80 toll-conversion project gets Phase1 approval, another round of public meetings could be held late this year or early 2009. During the meetings, I-80 project officials will review and seek input on proposed tolling locations, traffic diversion, I-80 improvement projects and economic-study findings. With much of the required Phase 2 work already well under way, the Turnpike will be prepared to file a Phase 2 application in that same timeframe to stay on schedule for a late summer 2010 tolling conversion.

Brimmeier noted the progress that the Turnpike and PennDOT have made in the past 12 months since Gov. Ed Rendell signed Act 44 into law last July. In that time, the Turnpike has provided PennDOT with $750 million in new transportation infrastructure funding. By July 31, the Turnpike will have provided nearly $1 billion in Act 44 funding in just one year for roads, bridges and mass transit. Annual Turnpike payments to PennDOT will average more than $1 billion over the next 12 years - or almost $1.7 billion a year over 50 years.

Beyond the funding, much has occurred in terms of public outreach. The Turnpike hosted dozens of public sessions across the I-80 corridor and around the state seeking input on the project while providing factual information concerning Act 44 and the I-80 toll-conversion project.

The amended application, cover letter and an endorsement letter from Gov. Ed Rendell are available for review at