Key Pennsylvania lawmaker optimistic about turnpike lawsuit

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A key state lawmaker says he’s optimistic that the state will prevail in a lawsuit over turnpike toll hikes that have resulted from a funding scheme for mass transit. The state transportation secretary has said losing the case could be “catastrophic.” 

The federal lawsuit is challenging the use of tolls for purposes other than maintaining and upgrading the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A plan enacted in 2007 sees the turnpike borrow $450 million a year for mass transit. 

READ: Turnpike Commission researches new ways to travel across the Commonwealth 

Suburban Republican Tim Hennessy, chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, says there have been discussions about what might happen if the Commonwealth loses, but declines to discuss them publicly. 

“Announcing plans on how to go forward in face of an adverse decision almost begs for an adverse decision, and I don’t know that we wouldn’t announce any plans for that just yet. I think, quite frankly, that we can win this lawsuit,” he said. 

And Hennessy bases that on the failure of a similar suit in New York, because unlike New York, drivers have a major toll-free, east-west highway option through Pennsylvania via Interstate 80.  

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