Photo: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Photo: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for what it claims are excessive toll increases that place “an undue burden on interstate commerce while improperly diverting toll revenue to other projects unrelated to the turnpike.”

The suit claims that interstate commerce laws governing the Pennsylvania Turnpike “hold that tolls can only be used to maintain or expand the 359-mile highway for which the tolls are levied," according to the association.

OOIDA and its co-plaintiffs, including the National Motorists Association and several small fleet and owner-operator companies, have requested an injunction to halt the commission from “overcharging customers to pay for non-turnpike projects” as well as to prevent the commission from borrowing money to help meet its obligations to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and in turn, to keep PennDOT from spending the money it received from the commission. Lastly, the suit seeks to have the alleged overcharges refunded to turnpike users.

“PTC’s tolls unduly burden interstate commerce by causing the Pennsylvania Turnpike System to be used as a revenue-generating facility designed to underwrite expenses incurred by PennDOT in providing services and facilities throughout the Commonwealth that have no functional relationship to the Pennsylvania Turnpike System,” the lawsuit contends.

The commission has hiked tolls for each of the past 10 years, including a 6% increase in January, at least in part to help cover the PennDot payments, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

“The tolls charged far exceed the value of the use of turnpike and the costs to maintain it,” said Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA, in a statement. “Truckers have especially overpaid the price at as much as 70 cents per mile.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

“Truckers and motorists are not ATMs to fund everything under the sun,” Spencer said. “The ongoing, economic drain on unsuspecting turnpike users is the epitome of highway robbery.”

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David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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