Truckers Strongly Urge DOT to 'Just say NO' to Tolling I-80

Dec 12, 2007, 00:00 ET from Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

    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: I-80 Letter.pdf

SOURCE Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association