You know that whole no tolls on I-80 thing? Well, turns out the state government – surprise! – didn’t plan on the federal government turning them down. And now we’ve got a problem.
The Inquirer reports that, “now the state has to find another way to replace the $472 million in toll revenue targeted for road and bridge repair and aid to public transit… The House approved a $29 billion state budget with no new taxes last month and sent the legislation to the Senate with a gap of between $750 million and $1 billion."
“That budget did not contain funding for transportation improvements that were to be underwritten by I-80 tolls.”
In other words: Read our lips, new taxes – and not the good kind that go toward projects like the Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force. Necessary hassles, like fixing up infrastructure and filling in potholes; repairing train stations.
All the magical money that everyone, SEPTA included, planned on spending from our EZ Pass accounts is now coming from our taxes. They need $532 million per year for road and bridge repair, and they need $414 million per year for public-transit agencies from border to rocky border. The tolls would have helped both these causes. Now, not.
Worst of all, this is Rendell’s last year in office and would have been the first time – ever! – he approved the state budget on time (every other year he’s been so busy, what with talking Eagles football on Comcast SportsNet or shilling for Hillary Clinton).
He was so close.
There won't be any tolls on I-80 in the near future. That means roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate. And SEPTA doesn't get its projects. And we don't get our Smart Cards.