Sunday, April 08, 2007

Make Sure That You Read the Tolling Industry's Fine Print Before the Governor Signs Off on a Deal

Privatizing our roads by going into business with the tolling industry is fraught with unacknowledged perils in other states where the "partnership" is more than just a theory as it is now in Tennessee. According to one Texas State Senator, in whose state the tolling industry flourishes:

As the Texas Transportation Commission began negotiating contracts with private companies to build and operate new toll roads, they hit several bumps. Most companies require at least a 50-year contract to operate and collect tolls. So the decisions we make today affect taxpayers for the next half-century .... The private companies prefer to put off addressing the buy-back issue until another day. This means the private companies would be free to hire experts to determine what they think the road is worth. It does not take a genius to figure out the companies will calculate the price in a way that enriches shareholders and leaves taxpayers holding the bag.
The market demands that drive racketolling are more risky to me than the prospect of paying higher gas taxes to repair and to maintain our free public highways. And yet, our Governor is calling his overture to the tolling industry "sensible." I call it hogwash.

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