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Knowles praises decision to reject I-80 tolling

Published April 08. 2010 05:00PM

Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill) today praised a decision by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to reject an application to toll Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, calling the decision a victory for Pennsylvania residents and businesses.

"Like many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, I oppose the tolling of I-80," Knowles said. "I had two major concerns about the proposal. First, tolling I-80 would have added a significant financial burden to individuals and businesses along the I-80 corridor. Second, the proposal would have allowed funds generated by tolling to be spent on mass transit. While I appreciate the need for mass transit, toll money should pay solely for road and bridge projects."

Knowles also noted that imposing tolls on I-80 would have had a devastating impact on Pennsylvania's job market, which has already suffered as a result of the ongoing recession.

"Unemployment in the 124th Legislative District is at a very high level," Knowles said. "In Schuylkill County the unemployment rate is more than 11 percent, and in Berks County it is nearly 10 percent. Making it more expensive to do business here by imposing tolls on I-80 would only serve to drive the unemployment rate up. Families in my district cannot afford any increases in taxes in order to bolster revenues."

Knowles added that Gov. Ed Rendell has a responsibility to bring state spending under control instead of proposing new ways to collect more money from Pennsylvanians.

"The governor just does not get it. He has been on a multi-billion dollar spending spree since he took office," Knowles said. "A few months ago, he had trouble getting his own party to agree to a $27.8 billion budget. Now he is looking to increase that spending to more than $29 billion. Instead of looking for another way to take money out of citizens' pockets, the governor should be looking for ways to cut spending to ensure we have the funds to cover our transportation needs."

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