Drivers

Study Points to Negative Impacts of I-80 Tolls

October 14, 2009

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A recently released study analyzing the impact of tolls on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania outlines the negative costs of the tolls, including increased crash rates and decreased consumer spending and production along the route.


In an effort to rake in more state funds, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans on trying to add tolls on I-80, for the second time around. The Federal Highway Administration rejected the state's initial application last year, saying the planned use of toll revenues did not meet federal requirements.

The impact study, which was conducted by Tracy Miller, associate professor of economics at Grove City College, found that trucks and cars would have to use alternative routes to avoid tolls, resulting in more injuries and fatalities. Because injuries and fatalities are almost three times as high on roads that are not Interstate highways as on Interstate highways in the state, the study concludes that adding tools could boost deaths by between two to four and injuries by between 100 and 200 per year.

In addition, the study points out that the tolls would act more as a tax or tariff because the funds would go toward purposes other than maintaining and improving the highway. Vehicles that use I-80 already pay for maintaining it via fuel taxes and other taxes, the study says.

With a toll of 31 cents per mile for Class 5-7 trucks, the initiative would raise the costs of operating a truck by just under 50 percent, compared to its current level, the study says. In addition, the toll would cause consumers to spend less and raise the cost of shipping goods, which would result in fewer goods being shipped along the route.

The toll would also affect businesses along the Interstate, including industries such as firms that produce manufactured homes, wood product manufacturers, manufacturers of transportation equipment, gas stations and truckstops, trucking companies, and warehouses. The increased costs associated with the toll could cause these businesses to cut back and even push some over the edge, the study says.

"While it is not clear how many plants would shut down due to the impact of tolls on Interstate 80, one or more employers that are just barely surviving could find it unprofitable to continue to operate if there were tolls on Interstate 80," the study said. "The result would be that between a few hundred and a few thousand workers could lose their jobs."

To view the study, click here.


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