GRAIN VALLEY, Mo., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has asked the U.S. Department of
Transportation to "Just say NO" to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission by
denying its request to toll Interstate 80. The association sent a letter
today to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, and Federal Highway
Administrator Richard Capka, which was jointly signed with the American
Trucking Associations, American Highway Users Alliance and the National
Association of Truck Stop Operators. OOIDA has consistently taken a stand
against tolling initiatives that amount to double taxation of highway
users, are financially detrimental to truckers, and have proven to cause
unsafe conditions on alternate routes as highway users avoid tolls.
"We need to do a gut check on how current resources are being used
before being asked to step up to the plate and pay more for a system of
financing that we are beginning to question and 'trust' today," said Mike
Joyce, of OOIDA Government Affairs staff. "Responsible use of current
resources should be the priority. Unfortunately, there are too many elected
and government officials that continue to pour more water into a broken
bucket, instead of fixing the hole in the bottom of the bucket."
The letter is one of several steps OOIDA has taken during the past
several months against tolling I-80. In September, OOIDA hosted a press
conference at the state Capitol along with several of its Pennsylvania
members. More recently, association officials have spoken at length at
several public meetings, hearings, symposiums and press conferences
throughout the state, explaining the severe financial hardship tolling
would impose on small business truckers.
"Truckers who merely drive through Pennsylvania, not just those who
reside there, already contribute a great deal financially through a myriad
of taxes and fees. And although heavy-duty trucks account for less than 10
percent of our nation's highway traffic, they contribute at least 36
percent of the money going into the Federal Highway Trust Fund, money that
makes its way back to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," added Joyce.
Small business truckers typically pay in excess of $16,000 in federal
and state taxes, fuel taxes, highway user fees, and licensing and
registration fees. Whether the truck is base-plated in another state or
not, they pay taxes on each mile they drive in each state, and may pay an
annualized percentage of their base-plate fees. Those residing in
Pennsylvania may pay $17,000 or more in fees and taxes per year as it has
the highest diesel fuel tax in the country at $.381 cents per gallon.
Safety is another concern if trucks begin frequenting other routes.
"The decision of truck drivers to use less suitable roads is not based
on an attempt to maximize their profits, but rather it's an exercise in
survival," explained Joyce. "Trucking is an extremely competitive business.
Small business truckers are those least able to offset higher costs of
tolls. As a result, they will choose alternate routes even when that means
they will contend with significantly more traffic."
The letter from the four organizations is legislatively focused;
pointing out stipulations outlined in the Interstate Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Pilot Program that need to be met by the Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation in order to be able to add tolls to its
highways. The organizations all believe the turnpike authority and PennDOT
have not met those criteria and therefore should not be granted permission
to toll I-80.
"The Pennsylvania application to DOT does not meet the legal threshold
provided by the law. This is a terrible hoax on the hardworking taxpayers
and highway users of the Commonwealth," added Joyce.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the national
trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking
professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has
more than 7,500 members residing in Pennsylvania and over 158,000 members
nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the
greater Kansas City, MO, area.
To view the full letter to DOT visit:
http://www.ooida.com/Documents/DOT I-80 Letter.pdf
SOURCE Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association