State Rep. Donna Oberlander has introduced legislation to abolish the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (“Lawmaker to introduce bill to abolish Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission,” April 13 and TribLIVE.com). The commission's faults in the pay-to-play scandal deserve action, but this bill would do more harm than good, contrary to the viewpoints of the Trib's editorial board, which has long advocated for abolishment of the commission.
To the editorial board: How many of you drive the turnpike daily? I do — it has been a part of my commute since I moved to Pittsburgh in July 2009.
Between 2005 and 2008, I drove the stretch between Westgate and Breezewood twice annually while going between Detroit and Norfolk for Christmas. Overall, the turnpike is a good road, and the commission is usually better at snow removal than PennDOT.
Consider how many times over the past few years a snowstorm has “surprised” PennDOT, bogging down all area roads with snow, while the turnpike has just been wet (I'd say at least twice a year).
A subsequent report claims the bill may pass because of public outrage over rising tolls, commission debt and seemingly non-ending construction. I don't like the debt and I don't like the tolls going up annually, but I blame Act 44 not being repealed after the application to toll I-80 was rejected. In this case, the commission's payments to PennDOT should have been rescinded, but it seems no politician can ever reverse a money grab.
The proper thing to do is to severely punish all of the bums involved in the pay-to-play scandal, ensure the right controls are in place so the chance of all this happening again is minimized, and then hire the right people.
Don't kill the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as a knee-jerk reaction.
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