MIKE ARMSTRONG: Coming up, a huge deal that affects anyone driving across Pennsylvania. You’re going to need more change to make the trip next year. High fuel prices claim one of the region’s biggest trucking companies. We’ll tell you why nearly 1000 people here will soon be out of work. A Philadelphia firm is bulking up its specialty chemicals business – we have the details. Philadelphia Business Today starts now. 

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MIKE ARMSTRONG: The big news on Philly.com yesterday was all about the Pennsylvania turnpike. For $12.8 billion, a European toll road operator won the right to lease the turnpike system for 75 years. Some highlights of the deal – union contracts would remain in effect, but look for them to be renegotiated when they expire. Tolls would rise on the 359-mile east-west turnpike, and the 110-mile northeast extension by 25 percent during the first year. And tolls could rise 2 ½ percent, or the rate of inflation, each year after that. Why is this happening now? Here’s some context. Rendell is no friend of the Turnpike Commission, which he sees as inefficient, and opposed to his policies. If this deal does get approved, that commission goes away, or is at least much reduced. Also, Rendell is gonna have a very good time getting this through the legislature. Voters don’t seem to like the idea of turning over the turnpike to a foreign company. But remember this – you’re gonna pay higher tolls one way or another, whether the Turnpike Commission raises them, or this private group. The state needs money to fix roads and bridges. 
Trucking companies will tell you they feel recessions before any other industry. Yesterday, Jevic Transportation said it will shut down as soon as it can complete all of its deliveries. The reason? Crushing diesel prices, high insurance costs, and an inability to get financing. Few Jevic employees saw this coming. The Delanco, New Jersey company has been one of Burlington County’s biggest employers. About 1000 drivers and other workers will soon be out of work.   
FMC Corporation is expanding its specialty chemicals business. The Philadelphia company will buy the hydrocolloids ingredients business from International Specialty Products of Wayne, New Jersey. Those compounds are used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but FMC did say the business had revenues of about $80 million last year. 
That’s it for today. You can read more about the turnpike lease in Paul Nussbaum’s story in today’s Inquirer. I’m Mike Armstrong, for Philadelphia Business Today.

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