PTC & Our Turnpike: Then

Founded in 1937, the PTC (Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission), financed and constructed the Pennsylvania Turnpike. When the Pennsylvania Turnpike officially opened on October 1, 1940, it represented a landmark achievement for Pennsylvania motorists.

America’s first Superhighway gave Pennsylvanians greater access to work, more options for recreation, and the freedom to roam the open road. Many of us harbor happy motoring memories: stopping to picnic, eating clam rolls at Howard Johnsons or taking Sunday afternoon jaunts to view fall foliage.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike: Now

That era is gone.

The Greatest Generation has yielded to the Greatest Burden. Cheap gas, friendly attendants and clean restrooms are in history’s rear view mirror. So too is the old way of doing business at the toll
road according to former PTC Vice-Chairman, Timothy Carson. Mr. Carson ushered in a new era proclaiming, “We’re not your father’s Turnpike.”

The Turnpike should not be my granddaughter’s debt burden either. Governor Rendell (D-Philadelphia) did not create the kleptocracy that became the Turnpike, but he did conspire with
both Republican chambers to construct an excruciating debt burden embedded in the passage of Act 44.

While the physical infrastructure that is the Turnpike is an essential artery for Pennsylvania, the Turnpike Commission is an outdated political patronage den where tolls, bonds, and perpetual debt are its lifeblood and the reason for its existence.

Our Turnpike without the PTC: Reform for the Future

There has to be a better way than the status quo.

It’s time we extended the efforts to reform state government by eliminating the Turnpike Commission, and collapse and consolidate its functions into the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. While Penn DOT may not be the permanent parking lot for the PTC, it can provide interim stable and public oversight.