Truckers Name I-80 Worst Road


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For most of the 1990s, truckers from across the nation voted in Overdrive magazine for I-80 across Pennsylvania as the nation's worst road. Overdrive is the truckers' industry bible.

After PennDOT spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars on repairs and rehabilitation, truckers conferred "most improved" status on it in a 1999 survey.

You'd think truck drivers would want Pennsylvania to do what's necessary to keep the highway in good condition.

But last Monday, two dozen independent owner-operator truckers with self interests showed up at a Harrisburg news conference in support of state and federal campaigns that rural, mostly Republican politicos are waging to stop the conversion of I-80 into a toll road.

The new revenues would enable Pennsylvania to continue to afford proper maintenance on I-80 while freeing up money PennDOT needs to improve other transportation facilities for the common good, including all 418,000 state residents employed in trucking occupations.

The unhappy truckers, who notably included out-of-staters, blamed everybody but themselves. They said being charged to use the shortest, fastest route to East Coast markets would put them at a competitive disadvantage, if not out of business.

They never volunteered that they pay to use bridges, tunnels and other interstate highways in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana, but they barrel across I-80 to and from those places at the expense of Pennsylvania taxpayers.

They never attributed I-80's extensive damage and high maintenance costs to the unending parade of big, long-distance rigs -- more than 50 percent of traffic at some times of day -- that bust up our highway between Ohio and New Jersey.

They never criticized the "midnight cowboys" who haul illegal, overweight loads on the Keystone Shortway in the middle of the night.

They never mentioned that while so many fellow drivers and trucking companies choose the New York State Thruway (I-90) or the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) as east-west routes, they've enjoyed toll-free travel since September 1970, when the final two sections of I-80 were completed to create the 311-mile shortcut.

They never offered ways to pay for the state's growing transportation needs while so many of them are "just passing through" -- our deteriorated secondary roads and structurally deficient, obsolete bridges be damned.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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