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Don't blame PennDOT

| Monday, June 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Regarding the editorial “Those Pa. Turnpike tolls: Up, up & away” : It is unfortunate and misleading to depict increasing taxpayer investment in transportation improvements as feeding an out-of-control PennDOT.

The history shows the opposite. PennDOT has 44 percent fewer employees than 40 years ago and manages a huge and old system of highways and bridges in the face of dramatically escalating costs with only periodic adjustments to its revenue stream. At the same time, rising fuel-efficiency standards are reducing fuel consumption and cutting into revenues needed for road and bridge improvements.

In 2008, Act 44 was adopted and it relied on a combination of increased turnpike tolls and new tolls on Interstate 80 as a funding vehicle. Since the federal government rejected tolling Intestate 80, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was still required by law to provide a portion of the funds used to maintain other state roads and bridges. Act 89, signed by Gov. Corbett last year, addresses this imbalance by reducing the turnpike payment in 2022. Moreover, Act 89 will address bridge and pavement conditions that will save wear and tear on vehicles and ease delays caused by weight-restricted or closed bridges.

Barry Schoch

Harrisburg

The writer, a professional engineer, is Pennsylvania's secretary of Transportation.

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