Scarnati Has Concerns Over Turnpike Bid

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


Leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike is far from a done deal.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says a lot of work still needs to be done. "I still have a lot of concern over leasing – I like to say selling – this turnpike to a foreign investor," Scarnati says. "As time goes on, this 700-page document needs to be reviewed and we need to do our due diligence. I am going to push for Senate hearings and be able to take a look at this and give it a fair airing. But the bottom line is we have a transportation crisis and it's time we have numbers that add up and a plan that works for everyone in Pennsylvania."

On Monday, Governor Ed Rendell announced that a team led by CitiGroup and a company from Spain submitted a 12 point 8 billion bid to lease the turnpike for 75 years. The money would go toward maintaining and repairing the state's roads and bridges.

As for how the plan to lease the turnpike will go over in the Legislature, Scarnati says he thinks there's enough support from the people opposed to putting tolls on Interstate 80 to take a look at the turnpike plan.

But, he says, the Legislature can't move toward a plan that doesn't work – "a plan that does not find the dollars to fix these ailing bridges that we have across the Commonwealth."

Scarnati adds, "Time will tell what kind of political support it gets, but certainly we have to do our due diligence in looking at the plan."

The General Assembly is in recess for the Memorial Day holiday. They return to Harrisburg June 2 with this, and other high-profile issues, on their plates.

The budget deadline is six weeks away, and House Democrats have yet to introduce any related legislation.

Other issues include the Clean Indoor Air Act, which is stalled in a conference committee, gun control legislation and the governor's healthcare and energy proposals.

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