Drivers of trucks and automobiles are asking the US Supreme Court to do something about the excessive tolls being charged on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and National Motorists Association (NMA) last week petitioned the high court’s nine justices to overturn the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling that endorsed the collection of tolls to fund projects wholly unrelated to the use of the road (view ruling).
The groups argue that the “dormant” Commerce Clause prohibits states from interfering with interstate commerce by imposing undue burdens on businesses located out of state. The turnpike does this by imposing the highest rates on big rig trucks. They also argued that imposing tolls greater than the amount needed for road upkeep burdens motorists’ right to travel.
“In 2007, Pennsylvania enacted a statutory scheme that converted the Pennsylvania Turnpike into a source of revenue to fund myriad projects throughout the state that have no functional relationship to the Turnpike,” attorneys Kevin J. McKeon and Paul D. Cullen wrote in their petition to the court.
Charges on Pennsylvania’s toll roads are generally triple what they need to be in order to generate $450 million in annual profit that, under state law, must be transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to pay for transit projects.