The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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July 29, 2011

PennDOT Secretary: Tolling state roads a long-term solution

(Continued)

July 28 —

If interstate tolling was considered, the revenue would remain on the road where it was collected, Schoch said.

But if the state uses tolls to fund transportation, the revenue would not come to Harrisburg for statewide distribution. Instead, local tolling authorities could use the funds as they saw fit, allowing for greater local control, Schoch said.

If interstates are tolled, the money would have to be spent on that road only. Tolling on state roads could be part of a regional financing authority that would keep revenue local. Tolls could be combined with locally increased sales taxes or commuter taxes to pay for transportation improvements in certain regions.

“We’re recommending enabling legislation, so that local government and regional government can make decisions above and beyond what the state can afford to do what they believe they need economically,” Schoch said.

Lawmakers are willing to consider the enabling legislation, but the governor would have to provide political cover.

“None of this counts, unless the governor comes out and says that he supports it,” said state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “It’s up to the governor’s office to bring us a plan, and we have to execute it.”

State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, minority chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Corbett should be willing to prioritize transportation spending even in an environment when government in general is being cut back.

“When you look at the issues of core government, one of them is highway infrastructure,” Wozniak said.

State Senate President Joseph Scarnati,R-Jefferson, said he would "take a look" at a tolling plan that was geographically fair and kept the revenues in the same area as the tolls.

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