The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a motion for preliminary injunction in connection with a class-action lawsuit they brought against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The lawsuit, filed in March along with the National Motorists Association, is for excessive toll increases that place an undue burden on interstate commerce while improperly diverting toll revenue to other projects unrelated to the turnpike. The preliminary injunction request seeks to stop the PTC from diverting millions in excess tolls to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for local projects unrelated to the turnpike.
The lawsuit requests an injunction to stop the PTC from overcharging customers to pay for non-turnpike projects, stop it from borrowing money to help make PennDOT payments, prevent PennDOT from the spending the money it received from the turnpike, and to refund the money to turnpike users.
Both OOIDA and NMA assert that tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike represent more than 200 percent of the real cost of operating the Turnpike. OOIDA and NMA estimate that in each of the last two years close to $600 million in excess toll receipts have been used by the PennDOT to support projects that have no functional relationship to the turnpike.
The newest motion asks the court to prohibit PTC from turning over these excess toll receipts to PennDOT pending a final ruling on the case. It also asks that the secretary of PennDOT be prevented from spending dollars already transferred to it by PTC.
“The tolls charged far exceed the value of the use of turnpike and the costs to maintain it,” said Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA. “Truckers have especially overpaid the price at as much as 70 cents per mile.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and says that federal interstate commerce laws for the turnpike hold that tolls can only be used to maintain or expand the 359-mile highway for which the tolls are levied.
“Truckers and motorists are not ATMs to fund everything under the sun. The ongoing, economic drain on unsuspecting turnpike users is the epitome of highway robbery,” said Spencer.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the only national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area.