Pennsylvania Lawmaker Says Turnpike Lease Deal Dead

July 07, 2008

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A Pennsylvania state lawmakers says a controversial plan to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike is dead in the water, according to published reports.

The chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny, said Friday that legislation to authorize the proposed lease will not get a vote in the committee he heads or on the House floor, reported the Associated Press.

"The majority of members of the committee are dead set against the lease," he said.

In May, Gov. Edward Rendell's office announced that a Spanish company and a unit of Citigroup had teamed up to submit the largest bid for the right to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the next 75 years. But it is up to the state Legislature to approve the deal.

Abertis Infraestructuras SA and Citigroup Inc. won the bidding with a cash offer of $12.8 billion. If the Legislature approves the contract to lease the Turnpike, the governor does not plan to pursue the tolling of I-80, which was called for in Act 44, passed last summer.

According to published reports, the lease deal would let the private operator increase tolls by 25 percent in January, and in future years by either 2.5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is greater.

Markosek has opposed the idea of leasing the turnpike and instead says the state needs to move ahead with Act 44.

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