Are privately-run toll roads the answer to Texas’ road funding problems? Gov. Minority seems to think so. We have had a variety of discussions on the issue here, including whether the Belo Parkway will be run by private operators. Earlier this year, Cintra, a Spanish company, got elbowed out of the way in its bid to operate Texas 121.
All of which makes this, from the New York Times, quite relevant. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine wants to turn his state’s two toll roads over to private companies for an up-front cash payment. The story discusses the pros and cons of the argument, but notes one key proviso of Indiana’s privatization, which is often held up as an example for the rest of the country: "… specialists who study toll road deals cautioned that the lease in Indiana was structured so that tolls would remain relatively stable for the first decade, then could rise quickly for the remainder of the lease — after many of the politicians who signed the original lease have left office."
In other words, we get a wad of cash at the beginning of the deal, and then the private companies who run the roads raise tolls when the people who signed the deal are gone and can’t be held accountable. It’s win-win for everyone but the people who pay the tolls. No wonder the politicians like the concept so much.
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