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We are no more deserving than they are
April 10, 2010 - Mike Maneval
In discussing the rejection of tolling on Interstate 80 in a Saturday Sun-Gazette report, state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, and former state Rep. Steve Cappelli, R-Williamsport, made a problematic recommendation.
Everett claim that Pennsylvania does not need the turnpike commission any longer wasn't it - that is a sentiment with which I agree. The troubling logic came immediately after, when he pondered whether the tolls on Interstate 76 should be administered by the state Department of Transportation or if the tolling should be turned over to a "private-public partnership." Cappelli has already concluded the turnpike should be leased.
For the better part of two years, we've heard from nearly every corner of the community that tolling Interstate 80 would be a financial burden on the middle-class. That tolling Interstate 80 would lead to higher prices for consumer goods, depressing the region's economy further. That tolling could be dangerous as motorists looking to skirt the tolls would take to smaller state routes not truly designed to handle the additional traffic safely, and that the additional wear and tear on many of these roadways passing through our boroughs would drain municipal resources. And all of these concerns are valid concerns, which is why the Sun-Gazette has stood solidly against the proposal as well.
But the burden tolling presents to the middle-class is not unique to Interstate 80. Every argument made against the proposal to toll the Interstate passing by our homes can just as easily be made about the hard-working residents in communities along Interstate 76. If tolling would be a burden on the pocketbooks of our families, it already is a burden on the pocketbooks of their families. If toling would be an impediment to a thriving economy here, it already is an impediment to their economies. And if we as motorists deserve the use of an Interstate for free ... then so do they.
In the wake of our opposition to tolling, our political leaders have a chance to stand on principle: Fight to abolish tolls on Interstate 76. Not to transfer their management to another government office, not to shave some of the revenues off for foreign money-lenders - as many of the leasing proposals would do, but to give our fellow Pennsylvanians the same economic opportunities to which we feel entitled. Anything else taints what we've accomplished in blocking tolls on Interstate 80 as disgusting, unethical provincialism.
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