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Survey: Pennsylvanians Oppose Turnpike Privatization

May 11, 2007

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The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) has released a new statewide survey showing two out of three Pennsylvanians oppose selling the Turnpike to a privately owned company.

"People understand private investors are motivated by the bottom line," said Jim Runk, president of PMTA. "That bottom line will be a key factor in any decisions made regarding toll increases, road maintenance, snow removal and highway safety. At the end of the day, Pennsylvanians have to repay this loan - most likely though toll increases and/or higher taxes."
The statewide survey of 800 registered Pennsylvania voters was conducted April 12-17 by Susquehanna Polling and Research. Among the main findings, the survey revealed that a majority rejected popular privatization arguments that revenues gained from a lease would help avoid a tax increase and that private operators would result in more efficient management of the Turnpike.
The survey also revealed that Pennsylvanians of all political parties, both genders, all ages, and different ideologies equally opposed to selling the Turnpike.
David Shumaker, PMTA chairman of the board and president of Shumaker Trucking Co., voiced additional concerns over the privatization proposal, citing toll increases that his company's 25 trucks must now absorb when traveling over the recently privatized Indiana Turnpike.
"For the past 25 years our trucks have made weekly runs to Chicago, traveling on the Indiana Turnpike," said Schumaker. "Last week, one truck paid $19 to travel the l78 toll road. Before the road was sold to private investors, the same truck would pay $4.50. As a result of Indiana's privatization plan, my small business will pay an additional $2,100 a year - just in toll increases in one state.
"It doesn't make sense for the Commonwealth to adopt plans that increase costs for small, family businesses like mine. Ultimately, it will hurt my ability to keep costs for customers low and stay in business."

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