As head of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, I recognize that the recent action by Attorney General Kathleen Kane jeopardizes public confidence (“Playing by the Turnpike Commission’s rules of the road,” March 17). But your readers should know that the rules of the road have changed for the better already.
In the past two years, the turnpike instituted a more rigorous, transparent process for awarding professional-services contracts to ensure that only the most-qualified firms are considered. In addition, we created an Office of Compliance to ensure that employee conduct remains above reproach at every level. Recently, we began a review of professional-services contracts awarded during the period covered by Kane’s inquiry. And we are forming an advisory group to review and critique all current procurement practices.
Over the years, Pennsylvania has been well-served by a toll road independent from the state Department of Transportation for many reasons, principally that we are in the midst of a $500 million a year, toll-funded rebuilding effort to promote long-term safety and efficiency. However, we would welcome a study of a possible merger to measure the long-term impact on PennDot and the turnpike’s finances.
Even now, our agencies are operating closely to identify common-sense measures to increase efficiency, including a collaborative effort known as “Mapping the Future,” since mid-2011. We are sharing expenses in areas like training and facilities design, and studying other alliances to share costs.