The problem with having multiple agencies in charge of state transportation infrastructure is that political accountability gets scrambled. For example, there are lots of good reasons to worry about the PA Turnpike’s finances, but how many voters realize that their state legislators passed a stupid law forcing the Turnpike Commission to pay PennDOT an unreasonable amount of money every year? How many voters know to hold the Governor accountable for Turnpike Commissioners’ actions?
For there to be real accountability for transportation planning and funding decisions, it would be better if the Turnpike Commission were folded into PennDOT. That way there’s just one guy – Barry Schoch – for voters to blame when anything goes wrong with transportation. If something goes wrong on the transportation front, the buck stops with Barry. If something goes really wrong, the Governor fires Barry and appoints a new guy, and then maybe voters fire the Governor come election time.
That’s how accountability works – when it’s clear who’s in charge, the people in charge try extra hard not to screw up. Right now politicians can get away with stuff because voters don’t know who’s in charge. Rep. Peter Daley can vote for a law, Act 44, that’s bankrupting the Turnpike, and then turn around and blame the Turnpike CEO, confident that voters won’t figure it out.