|The lawsuit by interstate truckers seeking billions of dollars in reimbursements from the Pennsylvania Turnpike for what they claimed were illegal toll charges is over. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the appeal by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. that the agency shouldn’t be allowed to collect tolls for non-turnpike costs. The association claimed the turnpike overcharged for tolls because it has to give $450 million a year to the state Department of Transportation to help pay for transit services, which the truckers said should be illegal. But the U.S. Supreme Court decided it would not hear arguments after the truckers lost at the U.S. District Court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The case delayed millions of dollars worth of construction projects for Port Authority of Allegheny and other transit agencies for more than a year because the turnpike was unable to borrow money to pay PennDOT. Those payments resumed last year after the district court ruled against the lawsuit.|
“We are pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision,” turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said in a prepared statement. “However, the truckers’ lawsuit did propel the burdensome funding obligation the PA Turnpike is currently under, as well as its impact on our customers, into the limelight. It is of paramount importance to keep leaders focused on the future funding of all transportation needs in the commonwealth.” The turnpike has been lobbying state officials to eliminate the payments to PennDOT because of its own financial problems. The payments are scheduled to be reduced to $50 million a year in 2023 and the state Legislature is looking for other sources of funding.
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