The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. has issued an urgent call for action from Pennsylvania truckers to oppose an effort to allow for public-private partnerships to do work on roads and bridges in the state in exchange for charging tolls.

The Pennsylvania House voted 128-66 last week to advance to the Senate HB3, which will set the framework for deals with private groups from around the world, such as Goldman Sachs, to advance efforts to convert non-tolled roads into toll facilities. If the bill is approved by lawmakers, a seven-member unelected board would be set up to review and make decisions on toll proposals.

OOIDA said truckers should make state legislators know they oppose converting existing roads to toll roads, pointing out that truck drivers already pay taxes and other user fees to access freeways. As a result, charging tolls on existing roads would amount to double taxation, it said. Truckers should also oppose allowing decisions on whether to charge access to roadways to be made by an unelected board, OOIDA said.

“Too many lawmakers view public-private partnerships as the solution to years of mismanaging transportation revenue highlighted by the state’s $3.5 billion annual shortfall,” OOIDA said. “Instead of avoiding responsibility for paying for highways, they need to do a better job of focusing on how to address years of wasteful and abusive spending.”

“Turning over decisions about funding to some unelected board, or some untouchable private entity, if anything, shows a failure to lead on improving highways,” the association said. “We have seen similar efforts fall short in the past but we cannot rest on this issue and hope for the same outcome. Contact your state senator now to oppose this effort.”

To contact Pennsylvania legislators go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/index.cfm?CFID=92071419&CFTOKEN=49414655 or call the OOIDA Membership Department at 800-444-5791.