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4/8/2010



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Pennsylvania agencies concerned about rejected toll road plan


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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has announced it might have to drop more than 20 projects now that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has rejected Act 44, a plan to turn Interstate 80 into a toll road. The agency would have obtained funding from collected tolls.

At the top of the list is a $100 million project aimed at establishing a new fare collection system and $100 million project designed to reconstruct the Broad Street Line’s city hall station.

“The loss of this funding would hobble the growth and rebuilding of the SEPTA system that our customers deserve and expect,” said SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey in a prepared statement.

SEPTA is estimating a $300 million capital budget for fiscal-year 2011, with $110 million in cuts due to the loss of funds from the proposed I-80 tolls. The authority would only have enough money for mandated expenses, such as debt service, vehicle and infrastructure repairs and new equipment, according to SEPTA.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is considering service cuts to make up the $25 million the agency expected to receive if the toll plan had been approved.

“The failure to meet the funding commitments under Act 44 would force the port authority to consider sharp service cuts that could isolate neighborhoods and severely compromise regional mobility in the Pittsburgh region. We are hopeful the state acts swiftly to address this funding shortfall so that such drastic measures are not necessary,” said port authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland in a prepared statement. 


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