Channel 19

Todd Dills

Keystone confusion

| January 09, 2009

In last year’s Highway Report Card survey, the watchword on the highways in the Keystone State was drama, as the perennial Worst Roads winner in Overdrive‘s annual survey waged a much-protested campaign to toll the second major east-west thoroughfare through the state, I-80. This year, the feds denied the state its application to toll the road under a federal pilot program, and since tolling existing interstates is otherwise illegal, though Turnpike officials deny any connection, Pennsylvania then rammed through a 25 percent hike on the already high-toll Pennsylvania Turnpike that went into effect with the New Year.

Local and regional news outlets have reported the aftermath in the past week — in The Vindicator of Youngstown, Ohio, PI amp; I Motor Express of Masury, Pa., and Nick Strimbu Inc. in Brookfield are quoted, predictably expressing dismay at the hike. “It’s crazy the way the economy is now,” Bill Strimbu told reporter Jeanne Stamack, then suggesting that his company’s customers in these times were unwilling to absorb the hiked cost of travel on the Turnpike. “The customers can’t absorb it. So it’s up to us.” From the Ohio line to Philadelphia, Starmack reported, it now costs a rig a whopping $168.75.

Still in the voting on the state’s roadways this year in Overdrive‘s survey, confusion reigned. As if rewarding Pennsylvania for its failure to toll I-80, the roadway, which has to the state DOT’s credit seen quite a large amount of improvement in recent years, scored first again on the Most Improved Segment list, but it also showed up in second place in the Best Highway Segment list, a definite first. Read the rest of the story in the Highway Report Card feature on p. 24 of Overdrive’s January issue.