Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717-920-7176
Bill Capone
Phone: 717-939-9551, ext. 3040
July 29, 2009
PA Turnpike Provides $225 Million
in Transportation Funding to State

Ninth payment brings total Act 44 disbursements to $1.83 billion in two years.

HARRISBURG, PA (07/29/2009)(readMedia)-- Pennsylvania Turnpike officials tomorrow will transfer a $225 million payment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - the first of four transportation-funding payments totaling $900 million to be made between now and April 30, 2010. The turnpike's ninth quarterly payment since the passage of Act 44 in July 2007, it will bring the total amount paid for the state's ground transportation network to $1.83 billion in 24 months.

"As lawmakers and Gov. Rendell work on crafting a new spending plan, the one key item not addressed in any of the budget proposals on the table is additional transportation funding," said PA Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "But state leaders know that the turnpike is helping to bridge the transportation-funding gap, so that's one less challenge to contend with during budget talks. Because our funding stream relies on tolls, the turnpike will continue to inject much-needed revenue to improve Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure and create jobs no matter what happens with the state budget."

All the supplemental funding supplied to PennDOT by the turnpike over the past two years has been generated entirely by toll-paying turnpike motorists and the sale of revenue bonds. In fact, nearly all of the new income from the turnpike's toll increase in January is being used to fund Act 44 payments. Today, turnpike travelers alone are carrying the load for underwriting Act 44; the $2.5 billion to be provided in the first three years of Act 44 will come directly, and wholly, from the fares paid by Pennsylvania Turnpike customers.

But the state's transportation officials warn that this level of financing will not continue unless other toll-revenue sources are added.

"We still need to address an important part of Act 44 funding which is unresolved at the moment," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. "Last year, the Federal Highway Administration failed to approve Pennsylvania's application to toll Interstate 80, and that means Act 44 funding for highways, bridges and transit falls considerably beginning next year."

Starting in July 2010, the turnpike's payments will drop to a fixed $450 million a year if I-80 is not tolled. But if the I-80 tolling application is approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), annual payments increase 2.5 percent a year. So instead of making a $923 million payment if tolling is approved, the turnpike's Act 44 contribution to PennDOT could drop to $450 million next year - a $473 million reduction in fiscal year 2011 alone.

"If the federal government does not authorize the tolling of I-80, the end result would be an overall decrease of nearly $60 billion in vitally needed transportation funding over the 50-year partnership established by Act 44," Secretary Biehler said. "We simply must take steps to close that significant gap."

In all, Act 44 will produce a projected $83.3 billion in new funding over 50 years if I-80 is tolled, but only $23.7 billion in the same five decades if I-80 isn't tolled. It is important to note that this decline in Act 44 funding without I-80 tolls is far greater than the actual toll revenue that could be collected on I-80 because of traffic diversion. Without I-80 tolls, many more travelers will divert away from the turnpike in favor of a non-tolled alternative to the north - especially as future turnpike toll increases are implemented - greatly diminishing the combined revenue-generating capacity of the two parallel interstates.

Applying standardized pricing to these east-west thruways minimizes the number of drivers avoiding the turnpike while maximizing revenue-generating potential. Without tolls on I-80, turnpike customers alone would finance Act 44 in its entirety over 50 years. Even if I-80 and the turnpike are tolled at the same rate, turnpike users still account for roughly 70 percent of the overall Act 44 funds while tolls paid by I-80 travelers would account for 30 percent.

Of the $900 million in Act 44 funding to be paid by the turnpike in fiscal year 2010, the state treasury will transfer $500 million to the Motor License Fund for road and bridge projects while $400 million will go to the Public Transportation Trust Fund to aid the commonwealth's transit agencies. After tomorrow, the turnpike will make Act 44 payments of $225 million in October 2009, January 2010 and April 2010.

Today, Act 44 funds are at work on hundreds of infrastructure projects statewide. In fact, PennDOT has improved 936 miles of roadway and replaced 79 bridges with Act 44 funds thus far.

For more information, visit