Rep. John Peterson, a vocal opponent of interstate tolling and leading congressional advocate for rural America, is expected to announce his retirement.

Peterson, 69, a Pennsylvania Republican and former grocery store owner, has spent 11 years in Congress. He represents State College and Punxsutawney, along with a wide swath of mountainous counties.

Two Republican officials with knowledge of the decision said Peterson was expected to announce his retirement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to pre-empt the congressman's announcement, which was anticipated later Thursday.

Peterson in recent months has criticized a plan passed in July by state lawmakers that would place tollbooths on I-80, which bisects his district. The tolls would help pay for highway, bridge and mass transit projects in Pennsylvania. Peterson said the plan unfairly burdens rural residents.

Peterson, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for abandoned mine land cleanup in Pennsylvania and other coal mining states. As co-chairman of the congressional rural caucus, he has advocated for improved telecommunications outside U.S. cities and for more government dollars to rural hospitals. But he's also been active on issues that extend outside his district such as pushing for more development of offshore natural gas resources.

Peterson handily won elections with at least 60 percent of the vote. The district is heavily Republican.